By Rick Thomason
Publisher, Kingsport Times-News
The Mountain City Tomahawk, legitimate news organizations and fair-minded, informed Americans are all sickened by the proliferation of “fake news” spreading across the desktops and mobile devices of millions of Americans.
While we believe Americans need to be discerning about where they get their news, there are other forces at play. The ad-tech community has rewarded fake news by paying its creators for each click to these deceitful sites. Some advertisers have been careless about where their ads run. Consumers have been vulnerable to misinformation from fake news sites. And publishers need to be more careful about accepting ads from dubious sites.
That is why the Local Media Consortium – which includes this newspaper – and its partners are issuing a call to its members and readers to help prevent the dissemination of fake news.
The LMC is a strategic partnership of local media companies representing more than 1,600 news sites across the U.S. that has banded together to use the latest technologies and partnerships with digital companies to not only help local journalism thrive, but to quell the spread of fake news.
Together, the LMC and its partners encourage its members and readers to refuse to reward fake news. The ad-tech and publishing industries together have the power – and we would strongly argue, the responsibility – to affect the financial incentive outlets receive for spreading falsehoods. The LMC urges its members, partners and the ad-tech industry to more fully vet the companies and organizations with which it does business.
Google has committed to developing policies to keep ads off fake news sites, and others must follow suit. The LMC, whose footprint currently spans 155 million unique monthly visitors, pledges to work with its members and partners to help ensure reputable companies producing genuine news coverage and best-in-industry ad rates are rewarded, while banning those pushing propaganda.
The national media do not have the local connections and context to cover what is going on outside top media markets. Consumers and corporate America must recognize the value of reputable, local news organizations.
It is almost impossible for an individual, or even a group of individuals to kill a piece of fake news. But simply clicking off the site and refusing to share it with a larger audience demonstrates your disdain for this scourge and your commitment to help stop its roots from taking an even firmer hold.
As journalists and news organizations we must look within our own newsrooms, websites and social media outlets to determine how we can best protect our readers from fake news. This includes educating readers and viewers about examples of this propaganda through editorial content, and encouraging social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to focus on local-level news.
We thank you for joining us in our commitment to protect against the ills of fake news and the sustainability of honest journalism.