General Admission

What to do with blogger engaged in ‘fake news’


By Al S. Mendoza

WHAT is “fake news?”

I ask that in view of the Senate’s hearing on “fake news” this week.

And there’s more to come, according to Senate Committee chair Grace Poe.

Bloggers had been invited by Poe to shed light on “fake news.”

They were joined by officials from TV networks ABS-CBN, GMA and TV 5, and some journalists from broadsheets.

The “fake news” phenomenon has become global as American President Trump himself would sometimes call news critical of him as “fake news.”

And so, what is “fake news” again?

To me, “fake news” is simply that—fake.

Even a Grade One pupil can define “fake news.”

One only has to know the meaning of fake to correctly define “fake news.”

Surely, I can bet my last buck that a Grade One pupil knows the meaning of fake.

Fake isn’t just “peke” in Tagalog but also in Bolinao, Ilocano and Pangasinense.

Fake is also “peke” in Bacolod and Iloilo, all the way to Dumaguete, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro and Davao.

And now this: A reporter aka journalist is guilty of writing “fake news” if his article contains lies or even a single lie.

It can be corrected with an erratum aka correction the following day in the newspaper where the “fake news” was first published.

In short, “fake news” is nothing but a news that is not true. It is false, period.

Now, if the false news has hurt someone, he could sue for libel.

If the accused is found guilty, he could either be jailed or fined—or suffer both.

I had been sued for libel once but it was dismissed the first day it was due for preliminary hearing.

“Without basis and merit,” said the prosecutor.

To be honest, “fake news” has been with us since news gathering started ages ago.

A journalist being just human, he can commit mistakes, becoming guilty of probably producing “fake news.”

But every newspaper has the mechanism to issue corrections to combat “fake news.”  It’s been in place since time memorial.

But the “fake news” issue has reached controversial proportions with the onset of bloggers, the very same people who write in the social media but not usually in TVs and newspapers.

Sadly, bloggers, some of them hiding behind aliases unlike journalists working for TVs and newspapers, are almost licensed to write anything under the sun.

That’s because the social media, being still a relatively new platform used by bloggers boldly waving seemingly unlimited powers to disseminate information/opinion including unverified facts, has become the current wave.

Can bloggers cite freedom of speech in defense of their work?

Absolutely, yes!

The Constitution provides that no law shall be legislated to suppress/curtail press freedom.  And blogging is also part of press freedom.

Seemingly, the most one can do to hit back at a blogger deemed guilty of “fake news” reeking of malice is sue for libel.

You begin by establishing the true identity of the blogger.

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