Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, left, and Illinois Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, right, are acknowledged for their presence on the House floor at the Illinois State Capitol, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019, in Springfield, Ill. Illinois legislators moved quickly to deliver one of Pritzker's top campaign promises, a gradual hike in the statewide minimum wage from $8.25 to $15 an hour — more than double the pay floor that most of its Midwestern neighbors require. (Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register via AP)
This post is an experiment. This article was from Feb. 2019 concerning the minimum wage hike, so of course, they wouldn't be wearing masks. I wanted to see if people actually read the articles on social media or just look at the headline and the photo.
I posted a blog weeks ago about what I would say to my five year old self and most people just commented on the photo, which was fine. But I knew they hadn't bothered to read the article. In this case, it didn't harm anything. But in a lot of situations, that can be quite dangerous.
My journalism students have told me that they get their news today primarily from social media. A lot of news you find there is unreliable. If you are only looking at a headline and scanning the photo, you can very well be playing into a trap of looking at and spreading false news. This can harm both your credibility and the credibility of whomever the article is targeting.
Such websites such as Snopes.com can sniff out the truth of 'news' articles and say to the degree how true they are. One of the latest posts they look at is, "Did Trump Tweet That the Confederate Flag Is a ‘Symbol of Love’?" The site found this was False since "On July 17, 2020, the Associated Press reported that the Pentagon had banned display of the Confederate flag on U.S. military installations in such a way as to “avoid the wrath” of President Trump, who had repeatedly defended retaining monuments and institutions named in honor of Confederate figures..."
It is important to fact check information, which is why I tell students and I believe teachers everywhere tell students, that they cannot use Wikipedia since anyone can edit the articles on that site. The post I wrote on May 2 of this year, "Journalism websites you must search for today" talks about a site called First Draft News, where you can take a course in researching credible news sites. I highly recommend it as it opens your eyes to become a better observer of what is actually factual and what's not in this day and age.
News that is posted on social media is for the intent to get clicks and when that happens it is even more sensationalized. This actually isn't the first time in our history that news has been fabricated. Yellow Journalists at the turn of the 20th Century made up news to sell papers. They actually created news stories to make them stand out over their harder news peers.
One famous incident involved the starting of the Spanish American War. Newspaper headlines read “Who Destroyed the Maine? $50,000 Reward,” “Spanish Treachery” and “Invasion!” even though observers of the sinking of the battleship said that the explosion occurred onboard. Nevertheless, top newspaper publishers at the end of the nineteenth century William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer used the chance to push the US to conflict with a foe that had been increasing pressure on the US for some time.
Before people read sensationalized online media, there were bold headlines in the papers and after that, there were the tabloids. There may be bits of truth in all of them, but we have to be careful what is true and what is not. Yes, the Maine exploded, but the Spanish didn't bomb it. Yes, politicians in the photo above aren't wearing masks. But the date of the photo is a year before COVID. Be careful as you scroll down Facebook. Don't judge a story by its photo and headline.