Fake News and Poetic License

Poetry and fiction are creative with the truth – it is part of what these forms of expression are for. At the same time, both have a significant capacity for reflecting on the world as it is, and changing how we think about what’s going on. We can and do re-imagine history to suit modern needs. We tweak stories to give them a shape that suits our purposes. We make stuff up. Further muddying the water is the fine art of satire, which will often present itself as the truth and as actual news in order to undermine, poke fun, make political comments and so forth. So, what is the difference between a bit of poetic license, and fake news?

For me, the answer is about intent and effect. The aim, and usually the outcome of anything requiring a poetic license, is that it adds to the sum of human experience. It helps us go deeper, further, to see from other perspectives, take a long view, see the absurd, or the human where before perhaps we couldn’t. A poetic license might lead to a story that is not factually true, but which nonetheless contains valuable truth.

The intention and often the effect of fake news is to diminish and confuse. It exists to shut down conversations, reduce diversity, limit perspective and close minds. When it works, we become less than we were because of it. We know and understand less. We have fewer productive ideas. We are smaller, and less able.

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About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

5 responses to “Fake News and Poetic License

  • Rick

    I’m still unclear on what fake news is, or even what a typical example might be. I see “fake news” accusations being slung from both the left and the right these days.

  • Christopher Blackwell

    I would question whether any news is completely factual. Note that in any newspaper interview, what you get is the reporter’s interpretation of what the person said, in TV often only a soundbite. Then your editor is going to have it with his spin as well.

    With the 24 hours news cycle, few reporters know how to research facts, nor has the time to do so.

    To keep the costs down, media has reduced staff, gotten rid of research files, or morgues. separate news bureaus in various cities, states, or countries, which are then left to a handful of news services, so that you find most stories told in nearly exactly the same words.

    As reporters and editor are under the clock, 87% American News stories and articles are literally the Public Relations Hacks Press Hand Out repeated word for word from company officials, government officials press hand outs.

    Also realize that some subjects may upset the various advertisers, or the government, so there are news blackouts on any information that they don’t want put out.

    Nothing new about this, we had the same situation in the old broad sheets of the American colonies and the first newspapers were openly biased to one political party or another, or even extremist groups.

    Freedom of the Press literally means that if you can afford to own the press, that you can print whatever that you can get away with. People tend to favor whatever media agrees with their own views.

    In recent court case the lawyer, for Fox News in Florida, got the judge to admit there is nothing in the law that requires the media to report the truth.

  • Sheila North

    Good points being raised, not just in your blog Nimue, but also the comments below. Inspiring me to have a go at a blog about my time as a newspaper stringer, reporter & then sub editor for a local newspaper chain, many years ago. I would hate to be in a similar situation – if such a thing even exists anymore – these days.

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