News Consumption and Fake News

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…And Nothing But The Truth

The news landscape is growing and changing in many ways for the better with information being more accessible than ever before. However some have taken advantage of this creating inaccurate information for personal gain. To the annoyance of some and the entertainment of many false news is nothing new, no wonder Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year 2016 is Post-Truth.

A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on
– Winston Churchill

The advancements in social media have blurred the lines between real facts and fictional baits, making it more difficult to tell the two apart.

In this era Nobody cares about  the truth if the lie is more entertaining
– @cthagod

Tribes bring news credibility into question.

I think news can be a bit dodgy – because a lot of it can be exaggerated and opinionated (such as the mirror and the daily mail) to target a particular audience and provide entertainment.
 -Female, 21, Mainstream

Generational News Consumption Habits

Despite today’s saturated news landscape, young people still form habits when it comes to news. 74% of 18-34 year olds turn to traditional new sources in order to get a balanced point view (Newsworks, 2015). As expected millennials are more likely than previous generation to use digital devices for news which gives them the freedom to ‘snack’ on small but frequent  bits of news throughout the day that they integrate with their daily activities. Interestingly enough, there are very few differences in news consumption habits between generations. Although the biggest influence for remains to be engagement and interest in news rather than their generation group.

Newsworks identified five news habits, which transcend both millennials and boomers:

Fixers – access news constantly, prompted by a general need and state of distraction

Trackers – access news regularly throughout the day to keep up to date with breaking stories

Fillers – access news to pass the time when moving from one place to another

Indulgers – making time to enjoy the news as a break from everything else in the day

Investor – read the news regularly to get an in-depth perspective on stories


Traditional vs Alternative News

DAMNED IF YOU DO, DAMNED OF YOU DON’T

Tribes actually use a range of sources when seeking news stories, often supplementing traditional media which they trust but believe to be potentially biased with other sources  of news which despite trusting less, contains a more diverse range of opinion.

 If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re mis-informed.
-Mark Twain

Traditional news was recognised by Tribes as ‘proper news’ which has a reputation for providing trusted providing factual news such as BBC News, The Times and The Guardian and ‘celebrity gossip news’ such as The Mirror and The Daily Mail that brands themselves as sources of celebrity gossip type news.

 The Daily Mail – I like to know the latest celebrity gossip and this site is perfect for this. I would describe the brand as the younger – more current sibling of the Guardian.
-Female, 24

New News

User Generated Content

The Tab has been an online news network publishing original stories by young journalists to report and write, professionally and independently.

Female Focused

Although traditional female brands are still around (i.e. cosmopolitan) – there is movement online towards more ‘feminist’ facing online publishers such as bitch media.

‘Lad’ Content

Content is often pushed via social media and few choose to visit pages directly. There is also confusion on the positioning of publishers having moved from ‘laddish’ content to more neutral views.

BuzzFeed

A social news and entertainment company that aims to provide “the most shareable breaking news, original reporting, entertainment and video”. BuzzFeed is very visible in their social media threads and for many is seen as a boredom buster. The tone of voice is perceived to be more light-hearted than mainstream media which delivers a wide repertoire factual content in a way which is easy to understand without being dumbed down.

I go to Buzzfeed mainly because Ive clicked on a post when bored and searching through Facebook. I usually go to the publisher for short – entertaining pieces. -See above -I would describe the brand as light-hearted and amusing -Less serious than most mainstream media/more enjoyable to read.

BuzzFeed often ‘gamifies’ content– creating content that educates Tribes about topics that represent their generation’s needs, concerns and interests in a fun and entertaining way.

“They are particularly good because they are funny and entertaining whilst providing factual content – usually on topics that people often wonder about but are too scared or embarrassed to talk about.”

However, they are sometimes criticised for having a contradictory set of values (for example promoting body confidence but then body shaming).

“They have a lot of different topics to look at – whether that be bug news events or little nostalgic feeling articles. I normally go there for their fun articles. I would describe their brand as quirky and being aimed at younger people in the way it is all written. You get a bigger variety from this publisher.”

Leading Edge Media

Dazed and Confused
Seen as a source for alternative news, specifically around arts, culture and music.

“Dazed Confused: I go to this for current art news. Articles on exhibitions and artists. Id describe them as alternative art news. They look at works that the traditional media tends to overlook.”

Vice
Mentioned by a few Tribes as being an alternative source of news content – giving space to niche topics or news stories which might not make it into mainstream media.

“VICE – cool, edgy takes on current events, and often shining a light on lesser known issues, their documentaries are amazing! I think it works because the brand is so unpretentious and just manages to capture the essence of being an effortlessly cool, worldly young person”

Social Media & News.com

Many of the Tribes described news as the medium in which people receive information and are made aware of current affairs. They also mentioned its ever changing usage, becoming more than the newspaper you pick up from your local but it has evolved into tweets and memes for the digital age. It is also worth mentioning that they highlighted increased accessibility and the speed at which news travels, especially on twitter where news can be released and can be updated and replied to within seconds.

“Twitter is very fast and up to date – you can get updated on an issue almost instantly – which is very important.”
-Female, 19, Leading Edge


“I think things are constantly changing – and not necessarily for the better. More young people than ever are following and believing anything and everything. Tweets from untrustworthy sources and such. Memes are being put forward as facts. Its a positive thing that we make light of the negative things happening – but – there seems to be memes and silly jokes for everything that happens – and they spread like wildfire.
-Male, 19, Leading edge

Some also felt that social media diverts our attention away from important stories.  Entertaining viral videos often overshadow main news stories  in an age where timelines ranked news in terms of popularity rather than importance an relevance.

“I think social media has made 15-minutes of fame more the topic of the day. For example a sad news article will get trumped (pardon the word usage) by a video of some silly person getting stuck in a bin or something. Though its also allowing more people to rant and talk about the latest events such as politics and really rave on about whichever side their on.”
-Female, 23, Leading Edge

Fake News

With these developments in media and news, the freedom to publish and essentially be your own news outlet has raised concerns on false news and post-truth. During the US elections Facebook, Twitter & Google have faced backlash, accused of allowing false information to spread on their feed. BuzzFeed also published an intelligence report filled with scandalous and unconfirmed claims about Donald Trump’s claimed behaviour in Russia. This triggered a debate over media ethics and responsibilities as the news spread quickly and many questioning the credibility of today’s journalism. Tribes suggested, the creation of fake news is motivated by the media’s need to broaden their audience. Pressured by a highly competitive environment, releasing shocking facts is a way to grasp attention, and to ensure a strong reaction.

Tribes Identified 3 Types of Fake News:

  1. Facts taken out of context.
  2. Exaggerated news.
  3. Completely made up stories.

Tribes described the possible consequences of falling for fake news and it being dependent on the story. If they have invested emotion in a news story such as happiness, shock, sadness or anger, they will feel more let down if it turns out to be fake.


Conclusion

The ease in which false news can be shared through social media platforms is an appealing marketing tool for those who want to broaden their reach and influence people. Tribes have become increasingly careful when it comes to news consumption and now fact check the information and may completely dismiss the source. Skepticism has led them to established sources like the BBC, where they hope not to be deceived. New media platforms such as BuzzFeed are becoming increasingly widespread among Tribes because they understand young people. These new platforms are creating strong bonds, despite their unconventional journalism.

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