How do you maintain journalistic integrity in an industry where the push to produce clickbait content is at odds with this? When the US President undermines the value of the free press in coining the term ‘Fake News’, how can journalism maintain its reputation? These questions are at the centre of the new play ‘Fake News’.
Writer and solo performer, Osman Baig, plays an unnamed Editor giving a lecture to the new interns at the online publication, Millennium Times. He shares the story of his near self-sabotaging media scandal and in doing so provides an intriguing insight into how the media works behind the scenes.
Fake News, directed by Sam Raffal, is comedic and engaging thanks to Osman’s lively performance. Despite the shifting ways in which news stories are produced and shared, the play’s message is that journalism still matters. Although this point was succinctly delivered, as my eyes scan the audience, I can’t help but feel that this is preaching to the already converted.
Osman brings his background in journalism to the fore as he introduces us to the competitive dynamics between those employed at the media publication. We meet Debbie, who’s obsessed with deer and Angus the wealthy vegan. The play touches on race relations and how unlike his white counterparts, he felt he needed to work that much harder to be where he is. It reveals that on a micro-level most content is simply produced out of the desire to outshine their fellow colleagues who may not all have an equal footing.
With the rise in online news and the decline in printed newspapers, the media landscape has rapidly changed before our eyes. Stories are no longer bundled up and shared in daily intervals but can reach audiences in milliseconds. Along with this, we’ve seen the proliferation of eye-grabbing and sensationalist online stories. ‘Fake News’ touches on these timely and necessary themes in a slick and fascinating production.
Fake News is running at the Assembly George Square Studio Four on Aug 5-11, 13-18, 20-26 at the time of writing.
Credits: Paragon Theatre Collective (Production), Osman Baig (Writer/Performer) Sam Raffal (Director)