One of the problems that causes the growth of misinformation and the possibilities for creating fake news is the fluctuating character and quality of online news. The user of the news medium has become their own personal ‘gatekeeper’. Besides that, the internet enables the distribution of news to be continually changing. This means that, depending on when a user looks at an article, a very different version of an article can be found. Michael Joyce (1995) gives an interesting notion on how the online editorial process could harm its reader by the following simple statement: ‘’Print stays itself, electronic text replaces itself’’ (p. 273). The content of a website might be subject to change. Furthermore: articles that are published online are easy to (undetectably) edit. There is no need to wait for the a second print: there is none. This means that news interfaces, in their current format, can make use of any linguistic and rhetoric adjustments, according to the comments they receive on their articles. Mistakes are not accepted; they are erased by quickly editing the text or image.
A big problem here is the fact that an article the user may have read one moment can be completely adapted the next. This can establish a different perception in users, (without their knowledge) of the content the article is being reckoned to transmit. For this reason quality papers such as the New York Times keep a close record of every change that is made in an article. In current times it seems to be an given that a news source shows this vulnerability regarding control over and prohibition against manipulation and mutation of their content (and in so they reveal their ‘backstage’ performance to the ‘frontstage’). This reflexivity has to guarantee the transparency and trustworthiness of their articles. News sources who aren’t already applying this basic institutionalized property are more and more perceived as unreliable, regarding the current notions of trustworthiness.
One of the possible features to solve this problem was the introduction of an online interface that is still rapidly growing; the blog layout. The blog layout is a registration of a collection of small ‘’newsworthy” occurrences that might happen during an event. It has been mainly used during sport events, elections and terrorist attacks, but is now employed for more ‘regular’ news as well. This might be the result of the fact that the current news cycle is continuous (24/7), while the transition of content is too slow or small to titillate the user to continue using that specific medium. The spectator of news footage expects the image to be placed in the right context, without any manipulation (e.g. Photoshop, other sounds, cut in such a what that a certain message is being transferred, added or removed cultural context).
But with our current technologies footage is easily manipulated and as a result life stream is seen as a more trustworthy newsagent. Because of the need to speedily disperse the information, the content undergoes little to no editorial process (Groot, 2012). You are immersed into a pool, consisting of bits of raw, unchecked and unfiltered information. A similar effect is achieved within blogs; content is proffered without editorial decisions, wherein the of sections eventually produces the story. In so the ‘’bloggers truth’’ (Karlsson 2011) becomes more trustworthy than a regularly edited article. In their attempt to deliver information as quickly as possible, coupled with the need for a continuous presentation, news agencies tend to deliver information in 24 hour cycles, even if the information that is dispersed can be misleading or even demonstrably false. Think of the breaking news frenzy, that explodes in all media, shortly after a terrorist attack. A recurring theme in these events is the general inaccuracy, for instance the way in which early casualty numbers are seldom correct.
The interface gives the readers of the content the ability to react and also to see how the news story’s content evolves, but still he or she is being underinformed, for instance by the selection of the information that is being distributed. However, false posts that aren’t adapted after having been posted, are frequently countered by later posts, notwithstanding that the ‘false’ information will remain on the web in one form or another. Consequently: the participation of the user and immediacy of the medium have an great impact on the content that is being published. This also has consequences for the authority that is assigned to the work of journalists. This is due to the plethora of different voices covering and debating the news, judging, compromising as well as justifying the (inadequate) information. The user of the content can have a positive attitude regarding the openness of the given authority. That is changed by the design of the interface and in so interferes with the position of the ‘backstage’ journalism towards the ‘frontstage’, this will demand a different type of performance from the journalist.
In conclusion: the merging of platforms is speeding up, making it easier for people to create their own content. On the other hand the amount of money needed to conduct reliable research pertaining the content has increased. These two factors combined cause an incapability for new organisations to differentiate their content from existing ones, that would lead frequently leads to a homogenisation of the “colouring’ of news, as time and money play a large role in the way the content and message might be presented (Phillips, 2010). In so the online journalistic field creates a paradox. It functions on the basis of the assumption that the quality of its content is partly grounded in its freedom of form, while at the same time being increasingly undifferentiated. Together these factors contribute to the loss of meaning of existence (Bourdieu, 1986). According to the research of Jane B. Singer (2007), bloggers have a different perception of the truth, as their sources are always a ‘work in progress’. Their ‘truth’ is founded in the transparency, in other words in the way journalists gain their perspective. The blogger uses a combination of distributed expertise, real-time collective response and public opinion as a barometer to define their perception of the truth, created by the information they gain trough their collection of content.
The key to the conviction of the trustworthiness regarding this information is based on the fact that people generally prefer to do their own analysis. They mostly trust their own judgement, rather than depend on the opinions of professionals, which might have been edited or even censured by themselves or an (sometimes undetectable) third party. When a journalist propounds to pursue fact, truth and reality, their accountability depends on openness; strengthened by a contemporary notion of relativity to subjectivity and an independent editorial position. This might have been realised through the means of the ’’asymmetrical nature of online communication and the fact communicators are not physically present to one and another’’ (Singer, 2007, p. 84). In so, the truth is not based on the type of interface, in this instance the Internet, but is rather caused by the characterisation of deception, in which the user ‘deceives’ him or herself, aided by the idea that there is an openness in the operations of the person(s) who wrote the article.
This implies that the creators need to change the use of certain procedures regarding the gathering, processing and distribution of information. Moreover they need to change the way the interface needs to adhere to the newly created properties of journalism, and also to the degree to which their interface is content based, in the conjunction between rapidly ‘’improved’’ information and (accompanying) imagery. The aesthetic of the new design has an influence on the value of the content. By showing in what way the news is produced or projected, the accountability and responsibility of the journalist is redefined and clarified, without adjusting the original design.