Kansas now has its own fake news source, The Sentinel. Not only does its alternate news misinform the public, but it provides cover for politicians who use it to justify their positions. This letter describing The Sentinel was published in the Wichita Eagle on May 5, 2017.
The Wichita Pachyderm Club recently hosted a talk titled “Fake News – Hidden News: Holding Government and the Media Accountable.” The presentation was given by Dave Trabert, president of the Kansas Policy Institute, and Danedri Herbert, editor of The Sentinel, a new online news service spearheaded by KPI.
According to Herbert, the role of The Sentinel is to report facts that mainstream media misses or won’t tell you. For instance, she said that factors other than the state’s failure to expand Medicaid were mainly responsible for hospital closings in Kansas. The hospitals, the state’s editorial boards, and the Alliance for a Healthy Kansas have said that Medicaid expansion wasn’t the only factor but was a major contributor in closings. The Sentinel article does not report that more than $1.8 billion in federal funding to date has been lost by not expanding Medicaid, and, more importantly, more than 150,000 working Kansans haven’t been able to qualify for Medicaid.
Journalism’s ethics require that publications seek the truth, the whole truth, and publish it; avoid bias for ideological or financial reasons; and avoid sensationalizing headlines and news to attract readership. When asked if the Sentinel would follow those ethical guidelines, the answer from the editor was not a resounding yes but an equivocation of how The Sentinel intends to report what the mainstream media misses – essentially the alternate facts.