Snopes Editor Blames Mainstream Media, Not Fake News

Jessi Hempel writes on Backchannel that Brooke Binkowski, Managing Editor at Snopes blames the mainstream media not fake news for the rash of misinformation. I don’t think her argument holds up to scrutiny — as it’s doubtful that more and better correct information is likely to automatically wash away lies and falsehoods — but it’s nice that someone is not zeroing in on fake news as the only culprit.

Here are two quotes from the article:

But as managing editor of the fact-checking site Snopes, Brooke Binkowski believes Facebook’s perpetuation of phony news is not to blame for our epidemic of misinformation. “It’s not social media that’s the problem,” she says emphatically. “People are looking for somebody to pick on. The alt-rights have been empowered and that’s not going to go away anytime soon. But they also have always been around.”

The misinformation crisis, according to Binkowski, stems from something more pernicious. In the past, the sources of accurate information were recognizable enough that phony news was relatively easy for a discerning reader to identify and discredit. The problem, Binkowski believes, is that the public has lost faith in the media broadly — therefore no media outlet is considered credible any longer. The reasons are familiar: as the business of news has grown tougher, many outlets have been stripped of the resources they need for journalists to do their jobs correctly. “When you’re on your fifth story of the day and there’s no editor because the editor’s been fired and there’s no fact checker so you have to Google it yourself and you don’t have access to any academic journals or anything like that, you will screw stories up,” she says.

Binkowski says the more important work involves setting the record straight at legitimate publications that get things wrong.

It could be she’s just towing the company line. Snopes is known for it’s debunking work. I guess they ought to believe that debunking works. The scientific evidence weighs against her view… Debunking has been shown not to be always or particularly effective.

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