Monday, October 1, 2012

Do You Believe What You See On The Interwebs?

Is satire acceptable?

In recent years, there have been many people attempting be humorous in the media ... and they are sometimes taken seriously by other media outlets who perpetuate their satire. But when the other media outlets republish the material, they print it as fact.

Take the image at right, for example (click on it to see it larger). It is a clip from an Iranian news site that doesn't understand, apparently, that The Onion is one big joke.

The Iranian news outlet ran a story about a poll The Onion made up that said, "The overwhelming majority of rural white Americans said they would rather vote for Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad than U.S. president Barack Obama."

In this day and age, when information is accessible immediately almost anywhere, should satire be allowed? Or is it up to the audience to decipher what is the truth?

Should it be the responsibility of the consumer to fact-check the Internet?

Does sature ultimately undermine the credibility of everything you read online?

37 comments:

rene cosides said...

I believe that satire undermines the credibility of what you read online because you will not be able to distinguish what is fiction and what is fact, especially if you are uninformed. To someone who knows alot about a subject, they can determine what is fiction and what is fact. I also believe that satire is sometimes not appropriate in certain subjects

Dave Cornfield said...

I think that it is the responsibility of the consumer to fact-check what they're reading. It is up to the audience to be intelligent enough to understand when they're reading a satire. There's a place for such publication, the internet. You're not going to find this stuff in the Inquirer, unless it's April 1st.

Eddie B. said...

I agree with Dave. As you have put it, the web can hand over vital information on a silver platter, all in a matter of nanoseconds. I believe satirical news, taken for what it is, can increase our awareness of the actual event; it can even inspire someone to read more about the issue in a more traditional journalistic medium.

chayonz said...

Due to freedom of speech and expression I think that its fine to publish satire on the web. The only thing I would say is that you make it explicitly clear that what you're saying is not fact.
It is the responsibility of the consumer to fact-check but at the same time consumers shouldn't be so distrusting of everything they read that they are forced to fact check everything.
Satire is good - if managed and distributed responsibly

Kate Patterson said...

I personally believe that it is up to the consumer to be aware of the fact that they could possibly be reading an actual article or they could be reading a satirical article. The reader should check the source before believing everything they read. Obviously if you're reading something off of CNN or The New York Times, you're going to be reading actual information.
I believe that if a website is going to post satirical information, they should provide a disclaimer for those that aren't totally aware of what is truth and what is not.

Geo said...

Are people smart enough to recognize satire?

- George
(the teacher, who isn't sure whether people are smart enough to recognize satire).

Zahara Hill said...

The objective of satire is to humorously convey one's opinion. When a writer gibes at an event in the news, they are creating an alternate form of news editorials. Satires should not be completely eradicated because they are one of the few outlets in which exists an artistic or creative expression of reactions to current events. Satires often communicate a common sentiment among people and I think the majority of readers know when they are reading a legitimate news story. Humor often has the power to alleviate emotional responses to negative events. The writer of the article in the Onion was likely trying to convey the absurdity in the thinking of provincial minded people that have petty reasons for being opposed to Obama. With the innumerable news sources on the internet, if the legitimacy of a story is questionable, readers can turn to other sources of information, if they are curious enough to read a news story, it is their responsibility to become educated on the topic, they cannot blame writers of the article, because they are utilizing their freedom of the press.

Corynn Johnson said...

I think the consumer is responsible for fact checking informtaion. The reader should be aware that not all news is credible, and make a conscience effort to do research into what they are reading. I believe that satire is accpetable, but due to the fact that alot of readers do not research what they read they could put a disclaimer somewhere, as Kate said, to inform readers on the nature of the content.

PlayerBeezy said...

I believe satire is fine as long as the person who is reading it is told that it's satire or else they will interpret it anyway they choose, which can be misleading. Also, at the same time the reader should know not to believe everything on the internet as many things can be untrue or completely false.

Andrew Sifari said...

I think it is up to the readers, too. It would be unconstitutional to deny peoples' ability to print sarcasm in general. Besides, readers should be able to detect the sort of over-the-top sarcasm of such publications, with ridiculous situations like this one with the Iranian president. The credibility of truthful sites is not undermined because they make it a point of saying that their news is legit; satirical news usually does the opposite.

Jackie Nelms said...

I am strong believer that we as the readers are responsible for the information we accept as true or false information. Although in some cases satire may be seen as inappropriate, there is no reason why it can't exist. The internet especially can not be accountable for telling the truth considering that anyone with access to a computer can post or come up with a website saying whatever it is they want. Satire does not undermine the credibility of everything you read online and it up to the consumer to fact check the information they are reading before claiming it as true.

Melonee Rembert said...

I think many people aren't able to recognize satire but that's not a necessarily bad thing. I think it's bad when someone reads something and goes to share and spread and talk about it with other people without really knowing if it is true or not. Even though it is on a popular or prestigious website or blog, doesn't really mean it is 100% true. People should really fact-check everything they read.

Jeseamy Muentes said...

In this day and age, there are so many different mediums of media, that I believe posting satire on the web doesn't undermine credibility of a media outlet. Every piece of news should not include satire, otherwise, it does create a distrust of the news and media industry. The consumer should be able to differentiate between the satirical and factual news they read. I think it's absolutely ridiculous that there was a news agency that published news from the Onion as truthful and factual. They are obviously not a true news outlet, otherwise they'd have checked elsewhere for that information as well. Consumers are smart enough to tell what's true and what's not. Of course, there will always be a few who can't tell the difference, but there will always be those outliers, but most people tend to be educated enough to fact check something that is obviously satirical.

Janki said...

I feel as though satire is not only something that comes across easily through print, but it also undermines journalists in my opinion. Journalists, as we have constantly said, are there to provide the public FACTS about what is going on. I believe it's a bit ignorant to believe that everyone is aware of what satire is. As journalists, we should act as if the audience are five year old children that know nothing of the subject and it's their job to tell them straight out what is going on.

Susan Dong said...

Okay, so this is probably going to make me sound not "smart enough to recognize satire" but for the purpose of discussion, I will share my sad moment... So, I was bored one day and picked up a copy of my brother's game informer magazine and started flipping through it. I came upon this page where it was talking about the little big planet game and I started reading it. Well, long story short, it said that you had C++ programming in the game and could create certain content with the game... I thought "oh how cool" because I thought this meant that the game taught you how to do computer programming (because I've never played or read anything about the game and come on they have games that teach you how to type and other stuff...) so I was going to go buy the game thinking that it was going to teach me computer programming. Well, apparently, it was not true. Thank goodness that it was my brother that broke the news to me and not a salesperson because I would have felt so stupid. A game where the person playing creates the game does sound fishy to me now but I wanted to learn computer programming so badly that I believed it anyway. What I'm trying to say is that people read and believe what they want to believe so although it really should be the readers responsibility to go look stuff up, the writers should also be a little more aware as well. I read the magazine thinking it was the traditional give me facts type of magazine so I was "mislead" not dumb. I understand that there is satirical stuff out there but when it's in a normal outlet not labeled as satirical, I think it can throw off a lot of people. I’m just saying.

Mark Valeriano said...

100% it should be up to the consumer to "fact-check" the material. Everyone knows that anything can be posted onto the web by anyone. Just because you read up on one thing certainly does not make it true. We have that awesome freedom to post anything we would like, but as a consumer to that information we must make sure that it isn't a hoax. I think now a days we should be taught more about how to check if information in credible, because I cannot tell you how many times someone tells me something that is outrageously untrue, and then I go on to believe it for a short amount of time.

Yung-Hsin Tsou said...

I agree with Mark. It's inevitable that people are going to post any kinds of information online regardless of true or false, since we have that awesome freedom. It's so easy to make up things, and I know it because I remember when I was an ignorant elementary school kid I raised my hand and told my teacher something never happened as "my experience" (I wouldn't do that now, though.) When the information we read concerns something significant, we as consumers should be more cautious. Yes, we all need to learn how to discern truth and lie, or we will be as credulous as the newspeople in this case.

Stephanie Cummings said...

I believe that there will always be things posted online that are not true. Satire most certainly undermines some of the things published on the internet. Unless you are an expert on a certain subject, it can be difficult to determine what is true and what is not. I also believe that not everything should be fact-check, but if you are going to share the information with someone then it would be a good idea to make sure your information is correct.

Alexa Bricker said...

I think that most people can differentiate when news is satirical and when it is for the purpose of actually informing people. At the same time, when something is put out into the open media it is available for people in other countries to see, which may cause confusion; therefore undermining real stories. However, I think that most consumers of media are able to separate truth from satire.

Geo said...

@Susan Dong: This may be the smartest thing ever written on this blog, "People read and believe what they want to believe."

If people can find info that supports their belief system, whether the info is accurate or satirical, they will trust the info and perpetuate it.

We live in a dangerous age. If we lack an informed public, various people in power will able to steamroll over us.

- George
(the teacher who doesn't want to be steamrolled)

Dan Snyder said...

I dig satire, it's funny, it's engaging, and it can really make you think about what's going on. On the other hand some people are just too dumb to get it.

Logan Krum said...

I do believe satire is acceptable on the internet. This may or may not have to do with my bias towards The Onion. Maybe satirical sites like Onion are TOO convincing for their own good. Some idiot will fall for every article or video they post no matter what. Maybe, by this point in time, they should take the responsibility to stress they are fake news, if they are facing consequences like this. I think sites have the right to post satirical BS, but how far is too far?

Jenna Meissner said...

I think satire offers comic relief in a world that is sometimes too serious! Of course it's important to be a well informed citizen who can keep up with current events as well as be aware of what is going on locally and nationally in the world. However, I am a fan of satire. Its fun, harmless ( in most cases), and allows journalists to express a different side of creativity. The well informed citizens I am referring to will be able to distinguish satire, but for the other citizens...they might have a harder time!

Tonii Mackie said...

Satire serves as a subjective news medium. It becomes the readers responsibility in this instance, as in all other instances, to take the information
given to him "with a grain of salt," for lack of a better term. Satire, especially in "The Onion" serves as means of shedding light on major issues in
a creative way. In place of supposed objective, factual, and concrete information outlets, where stories are being dictated to us, we are left with a
somewhat nebulous line of truth to dance along. In the instance of this story, obvious sarcasm for a person in american society is arguably
present, however, if uneducated, or even ignorant toward whatever topic may be at hand, satire can be taken literally. It is our responsibility as
consumers to educate ourselves, and question the media, even in its most "factual" state.

Tonii Mackie said...

In addition, it is arguable that everything is subjective. Even in its most factually formatted attempt, different news outlets for example, take position on different topics based on what will sell, or what will introduce advertising dollars to the network. We live in a world where regardless how things are laid out, people will go with whatever sounds "good enough." We are so hung on our own personal opinions that whether information is satirical, fact, or out right wrong, if it justifies preconceived notions we are willing to promote it.. if it sounds "good enough." It doesn't have to be good enough, it just has to be believable. We don't pride ourselves on fact, but on how many people we can get to think, and act just like us.

Kevin Soboloski said...

It is very important to trust the source you are getting your information. In this case the internet is an up and coming platform to retrieve information from the media, so it's credibility should be an all time low. With time hopefully it will be come more trustworthy, but I think the lack of trust is important to have. This reminds me of when people mainly trusted the radio for the news and the fake radio broadcasting of "War of The Worlds" with Orson Welles. People really trusted the radio and Orson, so when he said there was an alien invasion, people really believed it. So when people don't trust the internet, It's a nice safety barrier.

Sam Tighe said...

Sorry, my idiot roommate was the one who posted that last comment. I apologize. Anyway, it's foolish to believe everything you see on the internet. Unless it comes from a reliable source, take what you read with a grain of salt. Not everyone takes the time to fact-check the information they digest. It really depends on where you get your information. Is the NY Times website and someone's blog equally reliable? No. In the end, it all comes down on the reader. However, why wouldn't satire be allowed on the internet? Satire is a way to poke fun at a certain subject yes, but it also gets people thinking. Just look at "A Modest Proposal" by Swift or even the Onion. Though some stories of ideas seem outlandish, they can still make people think.

Jamie Pappas said...

I think that all information needs to be verified wherever it is found. The internet especially needs to be checked before immediately acceptance. I think that satire is a form of art, humor is a specialty talent. It should be accepted. Satire is mostly found online where people have complete control of their own blogs. I think that since people have the right to find all of the information on their own, they should also be able to determine what is reality and make their own decision as to what they believe. Taking away satire and regulating news heavily is undermining the intelligence of the American people. In saying they cannot determine what is satire, is just stating that the intellectual standing of the average American person is severely diminishing.

kevin troilo said...

I think anything satirical should more or less be interpreted by the reader as just that. Obviously you can't believe everything you hear anywhere in the world, not just the internet. I don't really have any sympathy for people who can't identify the difference between a serious story and something meant to get a rise out of you.

Bob Stewart said...

I wholeheartedly believe in satire. One of the things I developed when I ran the Student Vanguard at CCP was a satire page. Considering the feedback, positive and negative, we at least increased readership twofold.

On the page was a bold, clear, and extensive disclaimer/warning. Despite that I actually got several letters from people regarding a story I did. It was a piece noting that it had been 20 years since Eddie Murphy died. It was a ridiculous story with a whole explanation on how he was still doing movies despite breaking his funny bone and dying after slipping on a banana peel. The letters consisted of people telling me that they looked it up on the internet and could not find anything about it. I'll happily share one of the pages with the class as an example.

To me the bottom line is people should ask; who is the source? A person reading The Onion and thinking some ridiculous story should ask; who is reporting this? Do they have a reputation of being accurate? Do they even have access to the people in the story? If you are not reading NYT then what are you reading? The Philadelphia Inquirer? Okay. The Dallas Morning News? Ditto. But what about the Banbury Cake? Is it a recipe website? They are reporting that a stagecoach will covering some bus routes. Sounds weird to me. Well it is a community weekly paper for a small town in England. And wait, Stagecoach is the name of a transportation company that bid on the bus routes. Got it. Why? Because I checked it out when it sounded weird.

Satire is comedy and it is okay to laugh.

Meredith Thomas said...

I think that to some extent, it should be up to the audience to decipher what is true and what is false. For example, The Onion is known to be constructed completely of false stories, but are topics that relate to what is actually occurring in the real world. If the New York Times were to publish a story, it should probably not be satirical since the New York Times is a credible source which many people rely on for pure facts. Sometimes articles in sources that are usually reliable are satirical, therefore, I believe that it should be the responsibility of the consumer to fact-check what they read on the internet. Personally, whenever I read an article or post, I always check two other sources to assure I am getting the facts correct. I don't think that satire undermines the credibility of everything that is read online, people just need to know what sources they are getting their information from and double check everything that is published.

Jon DiMuzio said...

I think that satire is okay because some people enjoy the humor of it. People should really be careful when reading stuff on the internet because it is hard to defer between what is true and what is false. If something sounds a bit odd, then they should check another source. But people use satire to poke fun at things that are always serious, so it gives some people something to laugh at.

Eric O'Hara said...

Absolutely satire should be allowed. It's up to the consumer to be educated enough to tell the difference between satire and "real", and that's on them if they're not. We can't dumb down society because some folk can't tell the difference (Screamin' A. Smith, formerly of the Inquirer, had this problem recently. Link below). Satire has been a part of human society since at least the Romans and should be a fairly widely understood form at this point.

http://deadspin.com/5943994/stephen-a-smith-thought-an-article-about-him-in-the-onion-was-real

Chelsea Elizabeth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chelsea Elizabeth said...

I believe there's nothing wrong with satire. If that's what someone wants to do in their free time, go ahead and if that's what someone wants to read in their free time, once again, go ahead! Once it's published by another site as "real" or a "fact". It's up to the reader to figure out if the source is credible and back check the information their reading.
-Chelsea Finn

Moumita Ghosh said...

I do not think that it is always the responsibility of the consumer to fact-check the internet, because not everybody is aware of every single news and aware of what is going on every single time and it is the job of us as journalists to give people the right information so that they know the difference between what is true news and what is just fiction! For example- the Iranian news media probably did not know that the post on The Onion was a satire, and so they broadcasted that news publicly in their country as if it were true. So satire does sometimes undermine the credibility of the things we read online. Because once again, it is not always the responsibility of the consumer to go back and do a fact-check everytime they see a news story!!

Kevin Soboloski said...

I don't think satire should be a reason not to trust anything on the internet, in fact it should raise awareness to the viewers and give them reason to understand what they are actually mentally processing on the internet. So my belief is that the audience should decipher it. It wouldn't hurt if these sites gave some sort of warning, but as far as i'm concerned the audience needs to make an effort to understand where they're getting their information.