Professional Journalists out to trademark term ‘fake news’ to ban Trump from using it

Screengrab YouTube, SPJ

A Florida chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is hoping to trademark the term “fake news.”

As ridiculous as that may sound, Teen Vogue reporter Emily Bloch explained that her chapter of the organization believes “a joke sometimes hits harder than the truth.”

“So yes, this is satire. It’s a joke,” Bloch wrote. “But it’s a joke with a point, and as any student of public discourse will tell you, a joke sometimes hits harder than the truth. And if anyone accuses us of trolling the president, well, nothing else seems to work with him, so what do we have to lose?”

Covering education and government for The Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville, Fla., Bloch bemoaned that “being a journalist right now is scary.”

She also worries that the general public may not know “that journalists follow ethical codes and face losing our jobs and getting blacklisted by the industry if we so much as think about presenting ‘fake news.'”

The Society of Professional Journalists doesn’t seem to grasp that a video the group put out is pitting journalists against the president, even as they claim to stand for an ethical approach to reporting.

And make no mistake, this is all about President Donald Trump.

“President Trump using the term “fake news” so freely is something my colleagues and I find really troubling,” Bloch said, adding that it’s “infuriating” when the president “is constantly devaluing our work and has made a habit out of brushing off dogged reporting as ‘fake news.'”

With the request pending with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office — Bloch said it’s “uncertain” if it will be approved, though she doesn’t expect it will be — the chapter sent a cease and desist letter to the president because “it’s clear Trump has no plans to stop saying ‘fake news,’ anytime soon.”

“Referring to factual stories that are critical of your administration as FAKE NEWS (TM pending) is indeed trademark infringement,” the letter said, according to Bloch. “You may not be aware, but your misuse of the term FAKE NEWS (TM pending) has greatly confused the American people and shaken their trust in the journalism that’s so vital to our democracy.”

Sounds like the media realizes Trump’s message about reporting crafted to advance a political agenda is resonating and instead of altering their reporting, some young journalists want to obtain ownership of the term that best fits that effort in order to ban its use.

In the closing of their letter, the journalists’ dislike of the president is clear to see.

“If you fail to comply with our request, we may pursue legal action,” the letter said. “But of course, this is satire — which is very different than what you refer to as ‘fake news.’ It might be asking too much for you to realize the difference.”

Tom Tillison


Latest Articles