Stop Pretending We Ain’t Seen This Before

Of the many tired arguments that this is a New Era to which Journalism Must Respond (most likely by cutting newsroom jobs and reducing distribution), FAKE NEWS is maybe my least favorite: 

The production of fake, semi-false, and true but compromising snippets of news reached a peak in eighteenth-century London, when newspapers began to circulate among a broad public. In 1788, London had ten dailies, eight tri-weeklies, and nine weekly newspapers, and their stories usually consisted of only a paragraph. “Paragraph men” picked up gossip in coffee houses, scribbled a few sentences on a scrap of paper, and turned in the text to printer-publishers, who often set it in the next available space of a column of type on a composing stone. Some paragraph men received payment; some contented themselves with manipulating public opinion for or against a public figure, a play, or a book.

But … but … you mean to say satirical and/or politically motivated AND/OR just plain bullshit publications have always existed and maybe a bunch of Macedonian teenagers are not responsible for the stupid-ing of America forever? You mean maybe critical thinking skills and the nurturing thereof might be more important than the blaming of Facebook? YA DON’T FUCKIN’ SAY.

A.

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