Earlier this week, I received a complaint about a Globe investigation into a fake news site. The writer, who is a Canadian professor, called the article “fake news.”
The Globe story labelled “Media and ‘Fake News'” had the headline “NATO research centre sets sights on Canadian website over pro-Russia disinformation”.
The article, by chief political writer Campbell Clark and senior international correspondent Mark MacKinnon, addressed the issue of “fake news” head on. It noted NATO’s Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence was monitoring a website for pro-Russia propaganda and disinformation.
The site, globalresearch.ca, has published articles that claim the Assad regime was not behind the chemical weapon attack in April, suggesting it was a hoax. It has also said the Sept. 11 attacks were orchestrated by the CIA.
The professor writing in didn’t question these weird theories. Instead he accused the reporters of taking “their marching orders from NATO hacks to attack the credibility of an independent news outlet.” After a to-and-fro about what is credible news, the professor was unconvinced, saying the pro-Russian site was “giving us the other side.”
It is important to be skeptical about what you read, but his argument is a red herring. Listening to the other side is important for a different point of view or to learn new facts. There is no justification for incorporating unsubstantiated or made-up news into a story.
Most of you know the difference between credible news and conspiracy-based sites, and are rightly suspicious of those who throw out accusations of fake news, usually to decry news they don’t like.