In June, I had an opportunity to participate on a panel – Fake News vs. Media – moderated by Luis Fonseca, managing partner for Emirec Consulting, a marketing and communications consultancy in Portugal and a PRN member agency.
My fellow panelists included Vitor Norinha, reporter with Vida Economica; Uriel Oliveira, vice president at Cision Portugal; and João Pina, CTO for MeshApp. While we all have different roles in the industry, it was clear from the discussion that each of us is impacted professionally by fake news.
The panel agreed that while fake news has been politicized recently, it has always existed. With the rise of the internet and social media in particular, the way news is spread has changed. Access to content is immediate via mobile devices, and it is much easier to share content. To that point, according to Pew Research Center’s “Digital News Fact Sheet,” 93 percent of Americans receive news online and “more than eight-in-ten U.S. adults (85 percent) now get news on a mobile device, up from 72 percent in 2016.” According to prior Pew Research data, 47 percent of those receiving alerts clicked through to read the story.
Furthermore, findings from a study by Columbia University and the French National Institute revealed that “people are more willing to share an article than read it.” Arnaud Legout, the study’s co-author explained, “This is typical of modern information consumption. People form an opinion based on a summary, or summary of summaries, without making the effort to go deeper.” Unfortunately, this can perpetuate the dissemination of misinformation, disinformation, and fake news.
As articulated in the report, How to combat fake news and disinformation by The Brookings Institute, “Everyone has a responsibility to combat the scourge of fake news. This ranges from supporting investigative journalism, reducing financial incentives for fake news, and improving digital literacy among the general public.”
The report details the responsibilities of governments, the news industry, technology companies, educational institutions, and the public to “promote timely, accurate, and civil discourse in the face of false news and disinformation.”
Similarly, the panelists and I seemed to agree there is no one solution. We all have a responsibility to combat fake news.
PR professionals are instrumental in protecting their clients’ reputations and credibility by scrutinizing information they intend to disseminate, ensuring proof points to validate and support any claims and content so it is accurately communicated and understood. For more on this topic, read: Why PR Pros Should be Worried about Fake News – And How We Can Fight It.Tags: Best Practices, Colleen Moffitt, Communique PR, Media Relations, Public relations, Strategic Public Relations