CHICAGO: Most reporters say that fake news is damaging journalism, and many think the problem will continue no matter who wins the presidential election, according to a survey from PR firm Greentarget.
Eighty percent of the 103 journalists that Greentarget queried between July and September said fake news has “negatively impacted journalism,” and another 14% “somewhat believed that it had.”
Fake news “hurts me more than it ticks me off,” one reporter told Greentarget.
Disinformation has muddied reporting and affected awareness and understanding of hot-button issues, the journalists said, including protests on inequality and policing, the Black Lives Matter movement, immigration, the origins of COVID-19 and the pandemic’s infection rates.
Only 3% of the reporters surveyed said fake news is not a problem, while another 3% said they don’t care either way.
Reporters said that President Donald Trump’s attacks on the press have hurt journalism. One in four said the president has “had an extremely negative” impact on the profession and the credibility of reporters.
However, many said the situation won’t improve if former Vice President Joe Biden is elected next month. Fewer than half (46%) said a Biden win could help, while 43% said a Biden administration would make no difference. Eleven percent said it would get worse if the Democrat takes the White House.
The results weren’t a surprise to Greentarget, said John Corey, the firm’s founding partner.
“We try to keep an open mind going into surveys, although certainly we have hypotheses of where it will go,” he said. “We wanted to at least be the first to measure the extent that journalists felt [fake news] was a problem, and we did find it interesting that they feel it isn't expected to get any better under a new administration.”
More than half of the reporters surveyed have 20 years of experience, 15% have 11 to 20 years under their belts and 21% have been reporting for six to 10 years.
While reporters said they are concerned about disinformation, they have not reached a consensus on what constitutes fake news. More than one-third (34%) said it is false information knowingly spread with the intent to deceive, while 31% said fake news is misinformation spread by people who think it is true. Nearly a quarter (22%) defined fake news as propaganda.