fake-1903774_960_720There has been a lot of discussion recently regarding fake news. The term gained steam during the volatile 2016 presidential election. Weber Shandwick, Powell Tate, and KRC Research recently released a report that looks into Americans’ awareness of and experience with fake news.

Unfortunately, fake news is a term we have become all too familiar with. Seventy-five percent of Americans know the term, according to the report. What is even more telling is that 70% said they have read a fake news story. That shows that even though we are aware of the problem, we still sometimes struggle to determine the real news from the fake.

So who is responsible for spreading fake news? Americans aren’t so sure, blaming a combination of things for the circulation of fake news. Most respondents named the media, social media, attention seekers and political entities as the biggest generators of the problem. Most Americans also don’t see themselves as part of the problem, with 91% of people saying they’ve never shared a fake news story online.

The impact of fake news is a major concern. Eighty-two percent of respondents are worried about it and the effect it has on the credibility of real news. People think the rising level of incivility in the country is due to fake news. The study found that fake news, “Stirs up emotions such as anger, confusion, anxiety and disengagement, all leading to greater incivility and polarization.”

The issue is real and doesn’t seem to be going away. If you cannot tell whether or not a story is real, do your homework. We have to know where and who our news is coming from, and then decide if it is a source we can trust. The news cycle can be overwhelming at times, but we should not let it affect our ability to be an informed citizen, do research, and rely on trusted sources of journalism.

Stay tuned…