IN the old days of Carlyle and Burke, the Fourth Estate (or fourth power) was a political force or institution whose influence was not officially recognized.

Fourth Estate was what we refer to now as news media, especially print journalism.

The Fourth Estate was influential and unadulterated bringer of news and critic in society that Oscar Wilde, in one of his writings observed, “We are dominated by Journalism.”

In the United States, the phrase “fourth estate” is contrasted with the “fourth branch of government,” a term that originated because no direct equivalents as it was used in England.

The “fourth estate” is used to emphasize the independence of the press, while the “fourth branch” suggests that the press is not really independent from the government.

Through the years, with the introduction of radio & television news, smartphone news, computer, Internet and social media, what used to be “Fourth Estate” has become known simply as “Media.”

Of late, especially during last year’s elections in the Philippines and the United States, media has become fractured.

There’s legitimate news (mainstream, as well as ethnic news organizations like the Filipino Reporter and other Fil-Am newspapers, both print and online).

And, there’s fake news.

Fake news

Fake news, according to Guardian of London, is completely made up, manipulated to resemble credible journalism and attract maximum attention and, with it, advertising revenue.

Examples include: “Transgender tampon now on the market,” “Pope Francis at White House: ‘Koran and Holy Bible are the same,’” “U2’s Bono rescued during terror attack, issues sick message to victims.”

Fake news is similar to the concept of yellow journalism and political propaganda.

In late 2016, fake news gained notoriety in Facebook and Twitter.

Fake news was implicated in influencing the 2016 American presidential election.

Wikipedia says the origin of fake news is disputed, with accounts claiming it is part of a coordinated Russian propaganda effort aimed at America.

Hillary Clinton was a prime target of fake news during her 2016 presidential candidacy, and it has been claimed that her loss was partly to be blamed on fake news.

The propaganda model is a conceptual model in political society advanced by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky in their book, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media.

The model seeks to explain, among others, how populations are manipulated and how consent for political policies is “manufactured” in the public mind due to this propaganda.

The theory explains that the way in which news is structured (e.g., programs broadcast or commentaries posted in social media like Facebook) acts as propaganda for undemocratic forces, like authoritarian rulers who want to hide their viciousness or cruelty and brutality, like extrajudicial killings.

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