Wednesday, February 15, 2017
This lament about the state of journalism in a "post-truth" era is deja vu, although the author doesn't realize it. Fact-based journalism is relatively modern in its conception and practice. Before the New York TImes much reporting was opinion-based and delved into fantasy. Partisanship was high and charges against the opposition frequent. H.L. Mencken proudly related that at the time of the Russo-Japanese war in the Far East, he and a colleague made up a story about a sea battle between the two countries that had Japan winning. Months later, he learned he was right. The point is that post-truth journalism is nothing new. The difference now is that virtually anyone can engage in it and that should worry PR practitioners. There is no substitute for rigorous monitoring of social media and news sites of all flavors and persuasion. One must be ready to move quickly to get the facts out in the face of falsehood. In the old days, falsehoods traveled short distances, the reach of a newspaper. Today, they travel the world. That is worrisome.