Kafer: ‘Fake news’ is a fake term; let’s find more accurate language

The Denver Post: “Fake news” made news last week when Lake Superior State University released its 43rd annual List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness. The term was the top vote-getter among the 14 worthless words and phrases on the list.

“Fake news” no longer means a discredited rumor or an exposed lie. “Now ‘fake news’ is any story you disagree with,” notes the list’s authors.

“Meaningless words,” observed George Orwell, “are often used in a consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different.”

Since “fake news” no longer represents anything meaningful, let’s banish the term from public discourse and replace it with something more accurate.

For journalist mistakes, “oops news” would be a more accurate (if less chic) term. Reporters err like the rest of us. Can political bias contribute to sloppy reporting? Yes. Do reporters get up each morning hoping to make a career-ending mistake? No. Oops news cost Brian Ross a month’s suspension without pay, three CNN journalists their jobs, and Fox News a lawsuit last year. Safe to say they weren’t trying to get it wrong.

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