Skip to main content

The Most Troubling Thing About "Fake News"

As a professional communicator, I am well aware that our primary social institutions both make and distribute fake news.

Politicians do it. What is political messaging, really, if not the promulgation of a narrative that twists the facts in service of an agenda?

Governments do it. It's called "disinformation," "psychological operations," and "propaganda."

The news does it. We don't need to go into that. Survey after survey shows that only a minute percentage of Americans actually trust the mainstream media.

The alternative news does it too, on both sides. Let's be honest; just because a "citizen journalist" produced a story, that doesn't make it more believable.

Magazines do it. Who do you think is promoting "new and stylish" products but corporate sponsors, working through celebrities who in turn hire very cool PR people?

Music promoters do it, obviously. As beautifully as you sing in the shower, just being good at what you do isn't going to get you a record deal (or whatever they call it nowadays). In fact, a great many untalented people have their songs played over and over again until we "decide" that we really like them.

Want to introduce the next big product craze? Have you invented tomorrow's "must-have?" You'll have to get into Best Buy or Target or Staples or Costco. And how do you get there? Well it sure helps if you're an "Oprah's Favorite" pick, or if you've made an appearance on "Shark Tank."

Who gets to be a "supermodel?" Which actors and actresses become household names?

What about the medicine your doctor is suggesting you take? Are they at all influenced by the free samples they've received this month?

The most troubling thing about "fake news" is not that some people deliberately craft it in order to make a buck, gain legitimacy, get elected, or even stir up a needless war.  That stuff is pretty much a given.

No, what is troubling now is how effective "fake news" producers have been at:
  • inventing the term;
  • creating fake news themselves;
  • convincing other people to believe it;
  • positioning non-fake news providers as purveyors of same; and
  • instigating ordinary, unbiased people to fear and loathe anybody branded as a "fake news" provider.

We Americans may not agree on everything. But we must agree to unite on this.

The First Amendment isn't up for debate.

You are free to disagree with me, but you can't label me a criminal because I will not go along with your cause.

__________________
All opinions my own.

Popular posts from this blog

What is the difference between "brand positioning," "brand mantra," and "brand tagline?"

Brand positioning statement: This is a 1–2 sentence description of what makes the brand different from its competitors (or different in its space), and compelling. Typically the positioning combines elements of the conceptual (e.g., “innovative design,” something that would be in your imagination) with the literal and physical (e.g., “the outside of the car is made of the thinnest, strongest metal on earth”). The audience for this statement is internal. It’s intended to get everybody on the same page before going out with any communication products.Brand mantra: This is a very short phrase that is used predominantly by people inside the organization, but also by those outside it, in order to understand the “essence” or the “soul” of the brand and to sell it to employees. An example would be Google’s “Don’t be evil.” You wouldn’t really see it in an ad, but you might see it mentioned or discussed in an article about the company intended to represent it to investors, influencers, etc.Br…

Nitro Cold Brew and the Oncoming Crash of Starbucks

A long time ago (January 7, 2008), the Wall Street Journal ran an article about McDonald's competing against Starbucks.
At the time the issue was that the former planned to pit its own deluxe coffees head to head with the latter.
At the time I wrote that while Starbucks could be confident in its brand-loyal consumers, the company, my personal favorite brand of all time,  "...needs to see this as a major warning signal. As I have said before, it is time to reinvent the brand — now.  "Starbucks should consider killing its own brand and resurrecting it as something even better — the ultimate, uncopyable 'third space' that is suited for the way we live now.  "There is no growth left for Starbucks as it stands anymore — it has saturated the market. It is time to do something daring, different, and better — astounding and delighting the millions (billions?) of dedicated Starbucks fans out there who are rooting for the brand to survive and succeed." Today as …

Should I Add My Beer-Focused Instagram Account To My LinkedIn profile?

This is my response to a question originally posed on Quora.

The answer, like lawyers tend to say, is: “It depends.”

Not knowing what you do for a living, let’s assume that your LinkedIn profile is typical, meaning that it reflects the image of a corporate professional.

Would your boss, or a prospective employer, think badly of you for promoting your passion for beer?

Traditional product branding says that you should focus on your unique selling proposition fairly single-mindedly. Your goal is to create a space in the customer’s mind dedicated to your brand so that when they want to purchase something like it, they shortcut all alternatives and go straight to you.

So from a product branding point of view, putting a personal beer account on your professional profile is distracting. It tells an employer that you’re not totally focused on the encyclopedic and ever-evolving knowledge, skills and abilities required to do your valuable type of job.

However, people are not products, and appl…