Words and phrases tend to emerge out of nowhere and into popular culture without warning. Often it's tough to understand where these things come from or, in all honesty, what they even mean. A term that's been plastered all over mainstream media, the internet and consistently used by one specific politician is "fake news". Recently, a communications agency in Calgary, Alberta collaborated with the Florida Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists to literally trademark the term. The "fake news" trademark was followed by serving President Trump with a cease-and-desist, urging him to stop using the term.
We assure you, this is not "fake news" — it really happened. Wax Partnership in Calgary and the Society of Professional Journalists launched a video and website earlier this week along with their campaign.
“How do you stop the incorrect use of the term 'fake news'? You trademark it,” reads the Fake News (™pending) website.
In their campaign video, a spokesperson at the Society of Professional Journalists explains, “Here at the Society of Professional Journalists, we are deeply concerned about how a certain president of the United States is using the term 'fake news' to discredit the free press. Real 'fake news' isn’t news at all. It’s completely made up, ignoring the fundamentals of journalism like facts and sources.”
Narcity spoke with Wax creative director Nick Asik to learn more about the Fake News (™pending) campaign.
First and foremost, we were curious why a campaign like this would emerge out of Alberta, Canada.
"Fake news has to do with the internet. The internet doesn’t have borders, so fake news is a problem all over the world. People are increasingly getting their news from unreliable sources," Asik explained.
Asik went on to explain that the misuse of the term "fake news" is dangerous as it's become a blanket reaction to discredit news — factual or otherwise — that one doesn't agree with.
As for Donald Trump, "the whole notion of 'fake news' has become part of Trump’s identity."
"One of our clients at the Society of Professional Journalists did an analysis and he’s said 'fake news' over 1,200 times in tweets over the course of his presidency."
"That translates to nearly one per day," said Asik. Now that's a whole lot of "fake news."
In the campaign's video, the Society of Professional Journalists explains how they plan to clap back on the misuse of the term.
"Now, every time the White House head honcho uses the term incorrectly, we’ll send him a cease-and-desist letter." And this doesn't start and finish with the president.
"From now on, every politician, celebrity, or outraged tweeter who uses the term to cast doubt on stories they disagree with, you’ll be hearing from us," the video explains. Watch yourselves, folks.
Asik told Narcity that the trademark is still pending, but regardless of the outcome, the campaign is to generate awareness. "At its heart, it’s a media literacy campaign," he told us.
If the trademark is approved, you might want to educate yourself on the proper use of the term “fake news.”
If you’re not sure what’s right, wrong, real, or fake anymore, the Fake News website breaks it down. “What is Fake News? Depends on who’s saying it.”
They go on to explain that “when journalists say 'fake news,' they’re talking about partisan publication mimicking real news stories.”
The website goes on to encourage individuals to be critical and mindful about what they are consuming: “Asking yourself what you are consuming will help you distinguish between news, opinion, and incorrect information.”
It’s difficult to parse through all of the news and media we are bombarded with each day, especially when it comes to targeted advertising.
That said, keep your eyes and mind open and if something seems suspicious or biased, do some more research.