I'm not posting this to start another political argument.
But I am trying to get to the heart at what's going on in democracies / journalism / social sharing. I'm on a panel next week discussing this very topic, and eager to find something new, or at least substantiated with actual data.
Here's a very interesting look at the recent US election and the connections formed between journalism in the mainstream and the right- and left-leaning outlets, and what has changed since 2008.
I'm reluctant to try to summarise as it's sure to set off a reaction one way or another, but here's the gist:
- "fake news" is, depending on your orientation, a catch-all phrase for coverage you disagree with, or deliberately false stories planted for pay
- in reality, the "fakery" is a lot more subtle, subjective and pervasive across a complicated ecosystem of solid journalism, shaky reporting, partisan bias, honest mistakes, accurate reporting of dishonest statements, and wholesale fabrications - all shared, amplified and concentrated in social media circles
- On the US left, the ecosystem spread itself among mainstream and partisan outlets more broadly and less intensely than that of the right
- The right-leaning system had Breitbart, a hyper-partisan website, at its centre, and those readers/viewers within the system had fewer 'bridges' back to mainstream or left-leaning news sources
- This narrower, more intense system allowed issues to be framed tightly (e.g., immigration) and in ways that benefitted the Trump campaign throughout the Republic primaries and the general election
Now, without trying to preach or rationalize (or discern the socio-economic frustrations of voters or the quality of candidates) does this adequately describe the changes in journalism and politics at present?
Or are there other more powerful trends and shifts at play?
And what is the role of the communications consultant in guiding clients, political or otherwise through this changing landscape?
To accomplish this, traditional media needs to reorient, not by developing better viral content and clickbait to compete in the social media environment, but by recognizing that it is operating in a propaganda and disinformation-rich environment.