There’s something of an irony in the fact that fake news currently being high up the news agenda makes the PR industry look good!
Those who work in handling news and comment for business have long been eyed with suspicion by those who’s job it is to publish checked facts i.e. real journalists.
So often the words of PRs have been dismissed as ‘spin’. But spin, even at it’s height (such as in the days of New Labour…), was never as blatantly misleading as the current phenomenon which, let’s face it, is often driven by little more than a desire to make money from pay-per-click advertising.
Many of us have crossed from one side of this symbiotic relationship to another and that’s a really good thing, because the values and belief in genuine facts go with you. Genuine PR practitioners know that faking news is the worst possible move they could make their clients. It gets found out and the PRs get fired (if not sued).
This is understood by journalists, who often have long mutually-trusting relationships with PRs, some of who will have once been their colleagues.
That trust, of course, only goes so far and both sides know that a healthy scepticism should always been maintained.
This works. It ensures no-one stretches boundaries too far and an outright lie is the last resort of a desperate person or an organisation which is probably on it’s last legs and won’t exist much longer anyway.
But it does mean that the resource-stretched journalists of the modern newsroom can use what they receive from PRs at least as a starting point for their copy and know that they are not being “sold a pup”.
This scenario should prove to be of increasing value to journalists and their readers and viewers in a world that is increasingly going to struggle to tell facts from outright fabrications.
You would hope that enough people have enough sense not to believe only what they choose to believe from their Facebook feed, but will seek out news sources with credibility when they need to know what is really what.
Fake news is a worry and it could well be driving the world’s political and economic situation in misinformed directions at the moment – but it could also fuel the reigniting of trust in real journalism, which would be good news for everyone.