I spent the weekend at my aunt and uncles house who live in Lakewood. It’s always nice to get away from campus and relax. My uncle, who is very tech-savvy, is always on his computer and TV finding new information and reporting it back to my aunt and I. When ever I come over I love to have news to share with him, hoping that he will not have heard about it yet! This time my news was about Sochi: “Did you hear that the man who was in charge of the malfunctioning Olympic Rings in the opening ceremonies was stabbed to death?!”
I had seen this on Facebook (and to tell you the truth I didn’t even read the article) and everyone was talking about it! It seemed crazy but with all the other bad things I’ve been hearing about Sochi, such as not being ready at the start of the olympics and journalist’s tweeting complaints, I believed it.
Well it was all a hoax… But this wasn’t realized until after it was shared over 30,000 times on Facebook and Twitter.
Where does satirical reporting come in to play in our new world of journalism and mass distribution of information? And who is there to differentiate between the truth, the lies and the jokes?
I would put satirical reporting under the category of entertainment news. And entertainment news is really a form of Gate Watching. Satirical newspapers take information and stories and turn them around some how to make a point, and they usually end up very amusing. They are, in a sense, evaluating the news and putting that information into a new context. I would argue that this opens up a conversation and force people to think critically about the bigger issues surrounding that news. This is the same kind of thing that The Daily Show with Jon Stewart tries to do; takes the happening of the worlds and put a satirical and hilarious spin on them. People are more likely to watch and read this new, because it entertaining, and hopefully in turn take that information but with a grain a salt!
But where we run into a problem is when people don’t take the information with a grain of salt. Like when people took The Daily Currant’s article as truth and spread it on social media sites. And when this happens we need another form of Gate Watching to check the information that is shared and spread across the internet and other forms of media. Who or what for media is going to be the one that we can trust and rely on to tell us the truth? Who is going to take the time to double check the information and hold journalism accountable? This is the most important role of Gate Watching in our world of media today. We need someone their to prove us wrong when we believe a large hoax!