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The Eliud Kipchoge Private Jet Saga: Fake News on Social Media

Eliud Kipchoge
Image Courtesy INEOS 159

No human is limited“. This phrase coined by Eliud Kipchoge sets standards for us as Kenyans. But even with such wits and tenacity, we still fall prey to the tales of fake news.

The Eliud Kipchoge Private Jet

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Take for example the Eliud Kipchoge story. Creating a buzz around the country and the world at large, he made news and trended on all social media pages and sites. News about him supposedly getting a Jet from Billionaire, Jimmy Wanjigi, spread like wildfire. Everyone was in support of this and loved the initiative that Jimmy had taken, only to realize that it was a fake account and there is no prize for the record holder.

The way news is covered, reported, written and edited has changed, giving an inevitable rise to Fake News. A paper like the Boston Globe had a rule, “No piece should ever be written so critically of another person that the writer could not shake hands with the man about whom he had written.”

Dailies mainly date to the eighteen thirties when the word Journalism was coined meaning daily reporting, stemming from the word ‘jour”. Reporters were pledged to facts. “We are, for the first time in modern history, facing the prospect of how societies would exist without reliable news.” Says Alan Rusbridger, editor-in-chief of the Guardian.

He has a couple of theories that led to the beginning of the end of Print Media:

  • Conglomeration: Conglomerates swallow up other companies, suppressing competition, taking on debt and making the publishers cowards.
  • Dot-coms: The ability to advertise online spread like a weed in the 1990s choking up newspapers’ most reliable source of revenue; classified ads.
  • Online news: Newspapers all over the world shackled to mammoth corporations unable to compete with upstart online news aggregators.
  • Social Media: Pages like Google and Facebook came into the picture and swallowed advertising accounts whole.
  • Technological advancements: “If journalism has been reinvented, it has, in the main, been reinvented not by reporters and editors, but by tech companies in a sequence of events.

Circling back to the position print media holds in Kenya, it is not too different from this. Following the success of social media, TV and online news sites, print media is taking a huge hit in terms of readership and visibility in the market.

The likes of Instagram and Facebook are taking all the advertising revenue from the papers. Credibility is still highly regarded from newspapers but nowadays, it is more of a confirmation avenue. By which I mean, when something newsworthy happens, people already know about it by virtue of being on social media.

Print comes in later to just clarify that this is true and unfortunately very few people take their time to confirm these theories. This then leads us to the Fake News Trail. With news coming in from all directions of the compass, it is becoming harder and harder for one to decipher between real and fake news.

That is only one prime example of the countless times fake news has ridden our timelines and our homes. Print media still stands at the heights of credibility and with its demise seemingly looming closer and closer, media managers should work harder in sifting and providing substantial facts to their readers and consumers alike.

Since it is impossible to avoid change, I would recommend editors and journalist delve into the technological world and disseminate and report the news as they have been taught. It is only then that we can have the best of both worlds.

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