Iâ€™m very concerned about the problem of "fake news" and what it means for journalists, politicians and the media-consuming public.
But, really, this isnâ€™t a new concern of mine. For many years, Iâ€™ve battled with the concept that the internet is always right.
Increasingly so, it isnâ€™t. Actually, itâ€™s wrong an awful lot.
In 1998, when Jeff Sherman and I launched OnMilwaukee.com, we chose a digital platform not just because we had a crystal ball for the future of media. We also couldnâ€™t afford to print a magazine and city guide; at the time, it was much cheaper to build a website.
Of course, the opposite is now true for us. Our infrastructure, from servers to programmers to designers to bandwidth, is a tremendous expense for our company. At our scale, it wouldâ€™ve been much cheaper to print OnMilwaukee on newsprint.
However, this was back in the Internet stone age â€“ we built OnMilwaukee from the ground up, before WordPress and other templatized options made it easier to publish something professional-looking. In fact, even as we grow revenue and readership, people still often compare us both to one-person and 1,000-person operations, because the perception is that all online media is basically the same.
That would be like comparing a major daily newspaper to a photocopied neighborhood newsletter. Theyâ€™re obviously nothing alike.
However, the problem of fake news takes advantage of this perception of homogeneity. At OnMilwaukee, we hire professional journalists and insist on integrity and quality. We donâ€™t always get it right, and while some assume we have a secret politicized agenda, I can tell you honestly that we do the best we can to present well-written, legitimate lifestyle news. We fact check and follow the rules like we learned in journalism school.
Not everybody does.
Some news organizations find themselves too short-staffed to do the great work they used to (see: the Journal Sentinel). Others assume that "first" trumps "best" (see: …Read more...