The Fall of the Fourth-Estate Pt.1:
Continuous Degradation of Media’s Credibility Pyramid
“Fake News” plays an ironic part of modern media consumption in light of recent national events. Neutrality in mass communication is near impossible when trying to relay realistic presentations of truth. Fundamentally, different histories provide different subjective experiences to understand reality. Then what is not considered at least biased if not “Fake News”? Can we expect any retaliation or prevention of online echo-chamber evolution and condensation? Realism as a practice breaks down into impartial and subjective elements forming a triangle of sub-categories to evaluate media credibility. In both fictional and factual narratives, realistic exhibition has grown to touch all corners of audience relationship attempting to increase viewership.
Objective Realism stands as the highest level of accurate depiction of events while traditionally maintaining high reliability. While neutrality theoretically could be found to a degree in any piece, the exemplification of objectivity lies primarily in reporting and news sharing. Diametric sides shape the rest of the integrity triangle’s sub-genres with Manufactured and Implied Realism. Manufactured Realism holds the ability to garner a more significant suspension of disbelief and trust. Audiences can then follow along to a point where fiction or non-fiction could evoke highly empathetic responses. Implied Realism is the foundation for biased narrative demonstration. Opinions have seemingly continued to become extremes rather than points of action or non-biased interpretation, newly coined in 2017 as “Alternative Facts.” Akin to the Bermuda Triangle, unlikely elements of the three principals can overlap and become difficult to differentiate.
As time and technology has “democratized” digital narrative creation and dissemination, the over-saturated market of receiving the news has transformed dramatically in the past few years. Surplus media has generated more echo-chambers instead of conversation for audiences resulting in a reinforcement of biased ideology. Over-saturation and opinion-based evolving forms of construction and consumption foster a sense of constant skepticism within the consumers. Manufactured Realism creates a multitude of points for viewers to engage and suspend disbelief easily. Empathy and other emotional reactions are far more likely to lead to more substantial spectator reception and potential activation for the cause. Fiction manages to contain its sense of generated honesty with more apparent differences between a realistic or unreliable presentation. Documentary seemingly will never be able to escape walking the line of credibility. Differences between actual or false narrative elements can nearly be impossible to uncover in the modern documentary film genre. Documentaries are intending to share honestly relateable stories long ago surpassed the difficulty accurately evaluating other types of media authority.
Occasionally the two ends of the object spectrum exist simultaneously within the same piece of media. Character or plot depiction using Implied Realism generate a cultural disdain and emotional distance between audiences and the narrative. The exception with implied realism relies upon extreme audience opinions aligning directly with the presentation of content, either factual or biased. Primarily evolving in classic fiction, cinematic tools were suddenly the most valuable assets to be used by non-fictional outlets[i]. Two fundamental and opposite trustworthy elements make up audience’s primary relationship with media. Relying upon Manufactured or Implicated realistic depictions are opposing extreme stances of media exhibition leaving a large swath of middle ground uncovered. Short of understanding modern practices, a third more abstract leg is necessary to cover the total scale of narrative integrity.
Using these models to evaluate mainstream presentation, the fourth estate’s timeless trust with civic minded audiences may be repairable through reexamination of media depiction. Enough time has passed allowing new corners of info-tainment to warp the national sense of news integrity. Continually following business (financially driven) focused principals rather than journalistic ideals, the dissemination of news has created a main-stream reaction of constant suspicion between competing / politically different outlets. Propelling the 24-hour news cycle into the spotlight and introducing native advertising underline the third leg of our trust triangle being abandoned by the fourth-estate: Objective Realism. The need for more clarity on these types of “honest” realistic demonstration has become necessary for deconstructing all forms of fiction and non-fiction narratives. The expression of reality has transformed non-biased observation from audience members into seemingly never-ending predisposed judgment. Every format of media has taken advantage of easing viewer relatability to achieve higher views or sales through mirrored interpretations of existence rather than honesty anchoring content.
 Hunt Allcott and Matthew Gentzkow, “Social Media and Fake News in the 2016 Election,” THE JOURNAL OF ECONOMIC PERSPECTIVES (ISSN 0895-3309), Spring 2017, Vol. 31, No. 2.
 Regina Marchi, With Facebook, Blogs, and Fake News, Teens Reject Journalistic “Objectivity,” Department of Journalism and Media Studies, School of Communication and Information, Rutgers University, 4 Huntington Street, New Brunswick, NJ, 08901-1071
 MESFIN AWOKE BEKALU, Presupposition in news discourse, Discourse & Society, Copyright © 2006, SAGE Publications, (London, Thousand Oaks, CA and New Delhi) http://das.sagepub.com Vol 17(2): 147–172 10.1177/0957926506060248
 Lili Levi, A “FAUSTIAN PACT”? NATIVE ADVERTISING AND THE FUTURE OF THE PRESS, ARIZONA LAW REVIEW [VOL. 57:647]
 Patrick Howe, Brady Teufel, Native Advertising and Digital Natives: The Effects of Age and Advertisement Format on News Website Credibility Judgments
 Lili Levi, A “FAUSTIAN PACT”? NATIVE ADVERTISING AND THE FUTURE OF THE PRESS, ARIZONA LAW REVIEW [VOL. 57:647
[i] The initial Great Train Robbery (1914) vs. A Trip to The Moon (1911) are good fictional comparisons between manufactured and implied cinematic realism.