Avoid the Fake News Cycle

By Tom Ciesielka

There is a famous saying that came out of Chicago’s City News Bureau: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.” Unfortunately, not everyone follows that advice.

Cory Turner’s story on National Public Radio describes how students are being trained to recognize fake news. They look at viral stories and ads, and they have to decide if they are real or fake. What they learn confirms what analysts have been saying for a while: social media plays a huge role in how young people get their news. Many of the students never watch news on TV or read a newspaper, so they have to be careful about believing stories that they see on their phones or stories that their friends share on Facebook.

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAtZAAAAJDM3YmE1OGI4LTczYmQtNGExYy1hNjIwLTE1MmZmN2FhNDM0OQHowever, it’s not only students who should learn how to be careful online. Accuracy is also important for blogs that are posted on a company’s website. Busy professionals sometimes hire a ghostwriter or have someone in the marketing department write their blog posts. It saves time, but there should be a system in place to ensure the sources are legitimate and information is correct. Here are a few ways to do that:

  • Always read the blog post, even if you totally trust the writer.
  • Fact check what they write.
  • If research is included, make sure the writer submits sources so that you can verify they are credible.

For attorneys, the rules are different. The popular legal site Lexblog actually says that attorneys should totally avoid ghost blogging because it is not ethical, since the byline and content are not truly from the author.

Whether content is created or shared on a website or through social media, discernment is required. Whatever we do affects our professional reputation. People think business professionals only see what they look like on LinkedIn. However, even a personal Facebook page affects your professional reputation. Therefore, not only should you consider your sources when looking at other people, but consider your own sources for when others check you out.

The bottom line is that we need to put aside our personal preferences and seek the truth.

Westmeath’s seasoned counselors build strategic and creative communications programs designed to help enterprises perform better.