Integrity in journalism

I have to laugh.

I noticed a story where Google and Facebook are cracking down on fake news websites. It claimed that Mark Zuckerberg had denied that Facebook could influence the election and yet Facebook has the platforms to give such sites legs. I would argue that in fact the fake news sites only stirred up anger amongst the visible voters. The ones that put Trump in office weren’t on Facebook.

Now why am I talking about this on All about Anti Vaxxers? Simple – many fake news sites are their life blood. Top of the totem pole is Natural News, a garbage website that has been trying to whallop vaccines and mainstream medicine for years. In science it is failing, but in social media we have another story entirely. And the latter is a mighty threat because people who aren’t smart enough to figure out the right information from the wrong information press on and spread the stories. I can’t see how Facebook could control that, unless they start reacting to reports of fake stories and deleting the posts. At present if you report a post as a fake news stories the only option you have is blocking the page – which is a nothing act really.

Google on the other hand may be more powerful. Unlike Facebook, Google has a news service. It competes with not only the online platforms of the known daily newspapers that have moved online, but also other online news providers like Yahoo, MSN and so on. They could start removing search results from fake news sites from their web search engine. If that works, Yahoo and Bing (MSN’s search engine) could follow suit. That would reduce the new audience potential and harm the fake news sites – and I say GOOD!

The conspiracy nutcases are up in arms of course. A common theme in Australia is that Rupert Murdoch controls everything in news. For a start, he doesn’t have anything to do with Fairfax, which publishes the Melbourne Age, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Australian Financial Review. All three are strong newspapers and always have been – not to mention Fairfax’s local presence in the suburbs, and regional papers like the Canberra Times, the Newcastle Herald, the Illawarra Mercury and my own local daily the Ballarat Courier. But they both have one thing in common – an adherence to journalistic integrity. One is expected to tell the truth in a newspaper. One can speculate or express an opinion as well, but one can’t just blatantly lie. There are penalties for that in journalism. In Australia, there is the Australian Press Council. It’s hilarious that the anti vaxxers squeal about News Limited telling lies about vaccines and telling other associated lies – such as Peter Tiernan is Reasonable Hank, or Jill Hennessy lied on her video – and yet they don’t lodge a formal complaint with the APC! Well? Come on, idiots – do the right thing and make a formal complaint! Oh no of course you won’t – because you think they are part of the problem!

Well they aren’t, because when it comes to vaccines and to those issues the truth is out there for everyone to see. It is promoted accordingly as well. The anti vaxxers can’t stand that. I’m not a fan of Google and haven’t been since 2010, but they are doing the right thing. This fake nonsense has to be stopped because no one knows what’s really true anymore. Common sense has disappeared, replaced with gut reactions that harm everyone in the long term. It has already affected the political landscape big time in the United States.

I’m doing my own bit as well. So is Reasonable Hank. And so are the other pro vaccine proponents in their own individual ways. But we have one thing in common – a healthy level of contempt for anti vaxxers, and knowing where the line is between reasonable action and unreasonable action. From what I have seen of the others, I think I just might be the closest to that line – even closer than Hank is. But I’m not on the unreasonable side. And that’s why the anti vaxxers can’t touch me. They can lie, scream and carry on like spoilt brats for all eternity. It won’t change anything. They are wrong – 100 percent. That’s not just my opinion; that is demonstrable fact. And I can back it up as well when push comes to shove, and again I am not the only one.

The fake news sites are on borrowed time. And it’s about time as well. Integrity is required, and they have none. Any fake news site that promotes vaccines as dangerous, causing Autism or anything else like that is lying and doing damage to the community at large. Bill Shorten said this morning in Parliament that ignorance is not bliss. He was of course talking about cultural ignorance re the Muslims. I apply the same to the anti vaxxers. Ignorance is not bliss – it is harmful to children. Loving families don’t place children in danger, and anti vaxxers are placing children in danger by opposing vaccines so they are not loving families. That harm deserves the highest level of contempt and no coverage in the media except in the negative terms that it deserves – and no freedom of expression if I have anything to do with it without the appropriate penalty. Why? Because what I am fighting for is one thing above all else.

It is the truth.

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