A lot has changed in the past year, especially in the media industry and the world of public relations. We were already seeing a downward trend with the public trusting the media, but after the 2016 election we hit a new low. We are now overly familiar with new terms like “fake news” and “alternative facts.” We are living in what feels like the “post-truth” era. This is going to be a challenge for the media industry and everyone working in the world of public relations.
I personally believe this all started with the 24-hour news channels and news becoming a form of entertainment. The public craved the information and enjoyed the news being portrayed in an entertaining style. The problem was that as the channels started to multiply, they went to greater extremes to be entertaining, and they lost their real purpose. The real news, and supporting facts, got lost along the way.
I was at a luncheon a few weeks ago, where local media members discussed best practices for public relations professionals. They also discussed things they hate to see from public relations professionals and strategies that work to get their attention. At one point the conversation turned to the new normal in the world of media, the “post-truth” era. The conversation got me thinking. There are some easy changes that need to be made to get us back to being a society that trusts journalists and the media industry.
- Local media will be the leader. To get through this age of distrust between the pubic and the media the local media will need to step up and become the leader. They will need to do this by sharing more local stories, focusing on the facts, having good sources, getting it right every time, and limiting the editorialization of the news. We don’t need to know the anchor’s opinion about how the flood was handled by city officials. We just need to know that the flood was handled and there are future plans for flooding. Local reporters and media personalities are the key to turning this around. We know our local media personalities, we see them around town, so we are more likely to trust them.
- Journalists needs to check their sources and stop speculating. Journalists need to make sure they use good sources and that they don’t speculate. When they speculate, people start to perceive a situation is going a certain direction, then that perception becomes a fake reality. I can’t tell you how many times I will watch breaking news and the anchors are just flapping their lips speculating at the situation. They are just trying to fill time and live through the broadcast, but they really don’t know enough of the story to be live for that length of time. They also tend to be wrong when they speculate. The viewers or listeners take their word as fact and the inaccuracies are then spread creating fake news.
- The social media lynch mob needs to get their facts straight. I would like to propose a new rule… if it sounds too good, or too crazy, or too bad to be true, look for additional sources before you like or share posts on social media. Also, question the news source posting the information. Are they a real news source or are they questionable?
PS – Yesterday a UFO landed in Reno and the aliens inside went to the Oscars party. They literally danced and drank so much they caught the dance floor on fire. Feel free to share this blog post. We need the world to know that aliens enjoy the Oscars as much as we do. It must be true… because you read it on the internet.
- Let’s stick to the facts. Reporters need to get back to basics. Give us the facts, that is all we want. No need to speculate, editorialize, or let us know your opinion. You are talented and have a very important role in the world. You are the truth tellers and the record keepers. Please make sure only the facts make it into our records. We need good journalists more than ever.
The media industry has lost its credibility. If changes are made in professional practices, we should see improvements in news that is reported and hopefully we will experience a new “trust-era”. I hope local media leaders and reporters will rise to the occasion and take back the news. Let’s hope for less journalism fails in 2017.
Click here to see some of the best news failures.
Warning: This may make you laugh, or cry.
What do you think about the “post-truth” era? Is there any hope for us? Please comment below.