The BBC’s Fake News

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Donald Trump The Largest Purveyor of Fake News?

The news announced yesterday that the BBC is going to set up an educational programme for schools to teach/explore the issues of ‘fake’ news [read more here] is naturally a laudable enterprise, but its presentation as some kind of noble initiative – even apocalyptic in the apparent realisation that something needs to be done about this, now – is quite amusing but also annoying.

What the BBC is proposing is, of course, a timely layer to add to the long-standing subject of Media Studies, not that this layer won’t already be a key element of existing teaching. I was annoyed but also bemused to hear this announcement yesterday because it is in its own way fake news: the idea that an educational gap has to be filled and filled by this organisation.

For decades Media Studies has been pilloried as a soft subject, the ‘mickey mouse’ of academia, denigrated by the likes of the Daily Mail [always ironic as a key representative of why we all but especially young people need to have the critical faculty to analyse the bias and outright lying of such media organisations] and rejected by some universities as an ‘appropriate’ subject for admission purposes.

I’m not going to detail the importance of Media Studies by looking at curriculum content over the years. The obvious ‘fake’ news about Media Studies throughout the history of its denigration was a focus on TV study and especially soap operas and similar. What this purposefully ignored was the critical analysis element to that study – perceived as accessible and pertinent to a young audience – and it is this critical structure that is a skill applicable to all study and life in general. Of course, soap operas are unlikely to be applicable to a youth/school audience today: it is social media and the way social media has been used as the major vehicle for the dissemination of fake news, and disseminated for a whole range of dangerous and unacceptable reasons.

And it is for these reasons that Media Studies should be a core, compulsory subject, supported by the expertise of a news organisation like the BBC who should, one would hope, be able to analyse its own examples of bias as evidence of the pervasiveness of such.

My opening picture of Donald Trump and the headline with a question mark is one simple example of how easy it is to manipulate: had there been no question mark and so making the comment a declarative we are already in the world of trying to control message and meaning.

Not that he isn’t, by the way. Without doubt. There is all that evidence, too much to place here…

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