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President Obama’s decision to impose further sanctions against Russia and expel thirty-five Russian intelligence operatives from the United States is one of the most important stories of the year.
At this current time, Russian-American relations are at their lowest ebb since the fall of the Soviet Union. The major issue at the moment concerns the White House’s declaration that Russia undermined democracy in the United States by hacking key Democratic Party members’ emails in a bid to sway the electorate towards their preferred candidate, Donald Trump. The cyber-hacking is an essential component of this vitally important story, and yet it appears that some news networks, including CNN, are thoroughly out of their depth.
In a recent story discussing the sanctions against Russia, the news network illustrated their report using a screenshot from the hacking mini-game from the popular video game RPG ‘Fallout 4’. Reddit users were bemused to see the neon green letters which they instantly recognized from the game and asked whether it was really appropriate for the news network to be using this kind of illustration.
In Fallout 4, as well as Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, the player has to hack computers in order to gain information or to unlock doors and safes. The ‘hacking’ in the game is essentially a word puzzle in which the player has to scope out a specific word in a huge jumble of random characters. Naturally, this kind of game has absolutely nothing to do with the incredibly complex hacking operation that the Russian state has been accused of perpetrating against the Democratic National Congress.
“If you want to talk about hacking on a major news network, your choices are either that or a scene from The Matrix, ” one Reddit user remarked sarcastically, and it appears that they are correct. But while might all seem like a minor issue, it is indicative of a much wider problem with the mainstream media. Stories relating to computers and the internet are becoming more and more frequent in the modern world and yet major news outlets have failed to staff their outfits with reporters with adequate knowledge of these issues. This dearth of knowledge can have a clear impact on reporting which can lead to the public being misinformed about these kind of stories. This can only perpetuate ignorance about what is going on in the world and when it comes to such important issues, it should not be considered acceptable.
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