Power of the Media - Fake News

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  • Power of the Media - Fake News

    The power of the media and its effect on the community indeed are real. I thought more seriously about this after seeing several misinformation pieces that people believed even after evidence proved otherwise and the emotional buzz that surrounded our era of connectivity and our deeply divided partisan world.

    Orson Welles demonstration of what misinformation in media can do is a perfect example. In 1938 with his radio show “War of the Worlds” Welles created mass panic and yet none of it was real. It was fake news and an exemplification of what it could do even in small quantity.

    Panic broke out across the country. In New Jersey, terrified civilians jammed highways seeking to escape the alien marauders. People begged police for gas masks to save them from the toxic gas and asked electric companies to turn off the power so that the Martians wouldn’t see their lights. One woman ran into an Indianapolis church where evening services were being held and yelled, “New York has been destroyed! Its the end of the world! Go home and prepare to die!”

    When news of the real-life panic leaked into the CBS studio, Welles went on air as himself to remind listeners that it was just fiction. There were reports in the "news" that people committed suicide.

    The Federal Communications Commission investigated and found no law was broken. Networks promised to be more cautious in the future.

    Orson Welles feared that the controversy would ruin his career.

    However, the publicity helped land him a contract with a Hollywood studio, and in 1941 he directed, wrote, produced, and starred in Citizen Kane —a movie that many call the greatest American film ever made.

    It is crucial for me to ask questions and research any information I am given. What does the presenter have to gain? Is there another way of looking at it? Is this politically motivated? Are there other angles from other agencies? Is it designed to convince me of something or stir up emotions and if so what kind of feeling and what is the end goal? Is there scientific evidence? Who did the research? Was it a double-blind study and with a control group? Was the analysis confirmed with reproducibility? I do this for any information including websites, Facebook friends, someone I meet at a trade show or something my active mind presupposes!
    Last edited by Kim Welch; 02-03-2019, 01:47 PM.
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