Fake News: Billionaire press barons and the sidelining of the Leveson plan created a healthy environment for fake news to grow.

MPs are currently pursuing an inquiry into the impact of ‘fake news’. I will be interested to see the results. Much has been made of the impact of ‘fake news’ during the US Presidential election and had, arguably, an impact on Britain’s referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU.

There are certainly reasons to be concerned about the public’s exposure to lies being paraded at truthful reporting. The public have protection from advertisers making false or misleading claims but the public have no such protection from false or misleading reports in the media, whether social, publishing or broadcasting.

Why are the public turning away from traditional media and so ready to believe reports from alternative media? The main reason is that of trust. The traditional forms of print and broadcast media have so undermined the trust they held with the public, through their sustained manipulative and misleading reporting, that the public place reports from alternative media above those of traditional media. In Britain, for some time, people have complained about bias from Britain’s sole public service broadcaster, the BBC. Since 2010, the Tory government have placed people into senior positions at the BBC and exerted a bias in culture in the BBC’s news output that favours the Tories (or, rather, current ruling party). Repeatedly, key positions within the BBC’s ‘news’ team have been replaced with people ‘sympathetic’ to the Tory party, most recently Sarah Sands has joined people such as Rona Fairchild, James Harding, and the controversial figure of the BBC senior political Editor Laura Kuenssberg.

Oversight of traditional media has been fought vociferously by the media, recommendations from the Leveson Inquiry into the corruption of the press have been mothballed by the Tories. The public are becoming increasingly distrustful of what is presented as news from such obviously corrupted sources, so what is the answer?

My cynicism is such that I suspect the MPs of the Culture, Media, and Sports committee will find that the problem is solely with the content produced by alternative media and that forms of censor should be applied to them. The matter of traditional media being corrupted by media monopolies controlled by billionaire media barons or, in the case of the BBC, corrupted by politicians, will not be acknowledged, let alone addressed. Alternative media, for all its many flaws, is ‘open source’ and an area for free distribution of information outside of the constricts of self-interested, self-serving billionaires and self-interested, self-serving politicians. It is my opinion that, if you want to deal with misleading information coming out of alternative media, then you have to first deal with misleading information coming out of traditional media. Break up the media monopolies and ensure that the sole public service broadcaster has a robust constitution that protests it from political interference such as we have seen since 2010.

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