Our Post-tRuth era

      24 Comments on Our Post-tRuth era

Joel Stein

In public relations courses, seminars and conferences, teachers and professionals tirelessly emphasize the importance of telling the truth. Facts are placed front and center in our lessons; without truth and facts, there’s little hope for credibility and success when representing an institution, client or individual.

Time magazine columnist Joel Stein believes we’ve moved past telling the truth, noting that Oxford Dictionaries named “post-truth” its word of the year. “Lying used to be dangerous,” Stein wrote in his December 19 column In 2016, lies, the whole lies and nothing but the lies. But this year, lying proved profitable, even for those who got caught. From Ryan Lochte to Donald Trump, “It was the kind of year, ” he observed, “when you could even lie about being cheated after you won.”

We were also bombarded with “fake news,” published hoaxes, propaganda, and disinformation online designed to embarrass and discredit its targets. False stories were spread by political supporters, and often the politicians and candidates themselves. (More on fake news in an upcoming post.)

Stein gave examples of 2016’s lies: “Senate Republicans…wouldn’t vote on confirming Supreme Court appointee Merrick Garland because, Mitch McConnell said, ‘it is necessary to let the people decide this,’ even though the Constitution specifically says the American people should not decide this…Hillary Clinton spun such an enormous, complicated web of cover-ups about her email server that no one person had understood what she had done.” But Stein gave top honors to Trump. “Trump mastered the lie,” he wrote. “He saw Muslims in New Jersey celebrate the falling of the Twin Towers. He claimed that Clinton started the birther movement instead of him. He vowed to save $300 billion a year from Medicare’s prescription-drug program, which costs $78 billion a year. After he won the presidency, he lied that millions of people had voted for Clinton illegally.”

We’re in for a whole lotta crazy these next four years, and we’ll be digging through seemingly insurmountable piles of bullsh-t to seek out what’s real. All of us are obligated to enforce the heightened importance of authenticity and facts in our post-truth era. Your thoughts?

24 thoughts on “Our Post-tRuth era

  1. Anthony Pugliese

    It’s a scary time. However, it is up to us the people to make a difference. Throughout 2016 United States has had a permanent frown or at least that is what the media presents. The media could be the monster and if we the people make a difference, things could change.

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  2. Caprice Oliver

    This post comes at an excellent time, honesty has definitely taken a backseat now a days. Even after admitting to cheating like mentioned above you still can win, which is horrible. Honesty should always be upfront along with truth. I worry about our nation, because it seems that we have accepted lies in the post-truth and this is unacceptably wrong!

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  3. Daniella Opabajo

    Fake news stories are all around us but since most of us get our news from online or social media sources, it is difficult to tell which stories are real or fake. Usually fake news stories are created as a viral marketing tactic to get people talking about a certain topic. What we know as “click bait” is created to draw our attention in. Fake news stories are not only showing up on your Facebook timeline anymore, they are in many news sources. A reader’s ability to know what is credible news or not is getting difficult.
    However, Fake news stories is not a new phenomenon, it is something that happens every day and it doesn’t seem to be going away. I believe that there is nothing we can do to prevent fake news from being printed because of “freedom of the press.” However we as consumers of media, need to be aware how to differentiate from real or fake news stories.

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  4. Bernie Dennler

    One of my favorite movie quotes of all time comes from the book and film “Cloud Atlas.” “Truth is singular. It’s ‘versions’ are mistruths,” Sonmi-451 declares. I believe the news media has completely lost its way by becoming dominated by the capitalist need to deliver something for every possible market to consume. The corporate media produces different versions of the news for the sake of catering to niche audiences. Everyone knows that MSNBC, CNN, and Fox are going to have radically different versions on everything from the presidential election to Starbucks Christmas cups. MSNBC tailors its stories to a liberal audience. Fox tailors its stories for a conservative audience. CNN is just sensationalist. None of these networks accurately represents the world as it is, and the problem is only getting worse as people on social media share “news” within their own social circles and create these self-affirming echo chambers of misleading or downright fake news.
    When historians look back on this election there will be a lot to discuss, but plenty of discussion should center on Donald Trump’s into the political foray several years ago. This isn’t an arena he entered as a champion of the common man. Instead, Trump’s apparent interest in politics began with him pushing the “birther” conspiracy theory about Barack Obama. Historians should examine the conditions that led our first black president to be succeeded by a man who built his political career insisting his predecessor was a secret Kenyan.

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  5. Adam Engel

    I find it very sad that people have the decency to do fake news. Well if you’re not credible or your source is false, well that something that affects your company and also the public he was reading it because the information is not true we need to have fact checkers on social media. For example, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerburg was accused of fake news on Facebook. Hackers on Facebook and putting up fake news about the country and world . This needs to stop because now people question if any of the news they received his credible or not.

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  6. Jennifer OMalley

    The epidemic of fake news and flat-out lying is incredibly frustrating. I have witnessed people change their minds or base opinions on completely false information. I would love to think that simply making people aware that information can’t just be trusted and to fact check would fix the issue, but it’s pretty evident that much of the public will eat up whatever they see online without a second thought. We are now facing the consequences of fakes news and the media’s declining ethics and it’s even more dangerous than I could have imagined. For those of us that do fact check and put forth our best efforts to share REAL information, all that we can do is try to discredit bad info and promote truth. It’s sad that the media can’t always be trusted to do so anymore.

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  7. Jenny Rauch

    It really is hard to find find out now in days if something is true. The internet is covered with so many websites with fake news and false reporting. You have to fact check everything to make sure what you are reading is actually true or not. People just think it’s ok to lie and the media feeds into to it all too. I just hope that as we go on people don’t feed into this awful habit. Because if it continues we really will have a crisis on our hands.

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  8. Rian

    I’ve taken it upon myself to personally fact check ever article, no matter how much I want it to be true. If at least two reputable sites are talking about it, I decide it’s fake. I also make sure if I see fake news spreading to tell the person spreading it that it is likely not real. I think it’s my responsibility to let the facts see the light of day and if I’m more skilled and thoughtful than a peer may be, I need to do my best to vet content.

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  9. Justin Chupungco

    In PR it has always been emphasized to tell nothing but the truth. Though lying used to be seen as negative, now it is becoming more and more common and it’s repercussions aren’t as heavy as they used to be. Fake news is all over social media, and people believe any headline. When something people find eye catching or something they want to hear comes out, they instantly believe the story without fact-checking or credibility. With this becoming so common, it is hard to see if something is reputable and society is going to be a lot more dangerous. People will have to become much more wary, and cautious, making sure every piece of news is credible, and fact-checked and not some made-up, and untruthful lie.

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  10. Stacyann Nathan

    Lying use to be a negative thing now its apart of society and repercussions are very few. There is so much fake news spreading every day and as a journalist and pr professional I have to remind myself to not believe the first things I read. I believe Denzel Washington said its best news stations and people just want to be first. It does not matter if the story is true or false, if it hurts someone or not, as long as you are first that is all that matters. That is exactly what is wrong with journalism and people in today’s society.

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  11. Emily DiLaura

    As Hugh Laurie’s character Doctor Gregory House has always said, “Everyone lies,” and that’s the truth. We all want to tell ourselves we don’t lie and that we are honest people but at the end of the day everyone is a culprit. Yes, some lies are bigger and more destructive than others, but it is also our job to research and decide what to believe. Yes, people should not lie and should stick to fact, but we can also use our judgement and intelligence to fish through what is honest and what is not. Fake news is happening around the world and companies are trying to keep up with it, but we can use our resources in order to find the truth in the lies.

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  12. Adam Palasciano

    In both life and the PR profession, telling the truth is crucial. With the spreading of fake news by both candidates and supporters, this election year has been skewed and the views of many people have been changed as a result. The truth must be regarded in the highest way possible, unlike the way it currently is not in our society.

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  13. Marielle McCartin

    I agree that all of the fake news spread on social media is a huge issue. Sometimes when I am reading a blog or an article I will be astonished at what it says and then realize that it may not be true. It’s hard to take news on social media seriously when we have to try and use our best judgement to share what we think is actually news or just a fake written article.I hope social media comes out with some way to verify actual news stories for us because social media is a main source of news these days. Fact checking is very important in this day so that society can follow what is actually happening in the world instead of worrying about false made issues.

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  14. Jorge Marrero

    My initial thought that popped into my head was why are people lying? There is no need to lie about anything. People will respect you more if you just face the facts and tell the truth. You will have the reputation as the bigger person if you just confess to a wrong and tell the truth. The reason why people lie is because they believe they can get away with something by not telling the truth. In actuality, it always ends up coming to bite you in the butt. We live in an era where people’s feelings get hurt by the truth. We need to end this and become more proactive towards people who tell the truth because those people are the ones who m I respect. If someone tells me something I dislike, I will take what that person told me into consideration and grow from their comments.

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  15. Brianna Beaumont

    I think that we all should tell the truth, but hardly anyone tells the truth anymore. When we first start out we think only little white lies are okay, buy now it has grown into that completely lying is alright. I think with Trump as president it will only get worse. Having someone high in authority like that will influence other people that it is okay to act like he does.

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  16. Victoria Conway

    It is an unfortunate fact of todays day and age that people do not value the truth. Instead of putting in effort to research a topic, people take the lazy way out. This in turn, makes our society uninformed and uneducated.

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  17. Jessica Mohen

    The prominence of “fake news” is the most troubling issue of the “post-truth” era. When reading an article on a social media website, often times the news is not corroborated or backed by sources. Without the credibility, people have to be more skeptical than ever before. You cannot believe everything you read, but we tend to be gullible. It’s important to fact check and do proper research from credible sources before forming an opinion or stance.

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  18. Connor Giblin

    The truth became optional when being first and getting hits turned into the priority. These fake news stories and the lies gained traction because we as a culture cared more about the shock value. As we use social media to gather our news, we trust it more. And, if people “cite” a source, we do not do any investigating beyond that, believing it to be true since someone cited a source. If we are obligated to maintain the truth, then we all have to start thinking about how and where we digest our news.

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  19. Michael Esposito

    I think that like the article said, lies prove to be profitable. I think that the media has to sacrifice profit and provide truth to the public. We are going to end up being lied to and not even know it. It’s a scary possibility.

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  20. Arianna du Manoir

    This is why it is crucial to realize that social media or websites such as Buzzfeed cannot be the source one relies on the most for news. On platforms such as these, it is so easy to distribute fake news as anything can be posted and shared by many within seconds, making it appear credible. If you can, grab the New York Times newspaper or read articles online on the Wall Street Journal website or any other news credible source that has been around for many years and maintains a good reputation of providing fact based news. If one does continue to use social media as their main base for news, then one must be careful not to believe everything they see and take most of it with a grain of salt.

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  21. Amina

    I think a lot of times, the media is giving us information that they think we want to hear not what is truthful because it will make for better news or bring more attention to their magazine and/or story. We have to use discernment to find and seek out the truth.

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  22. Anna Baxter

    What is scary about these upcoming years and the present is that a lot of people are already unknowingly using fake news as their only news source. Scrolling through Facebook, you can see ridiculous sounding stories but you will never know if they are true unless you research further. I think that due to this, all media professionals will have a difficult time in upcoming years proving legitimacy. In order to be seen as a reliable profession, public relations practitioners need to make sure that whatever they are promoting is the truth.

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  23. Justin McCue

    I feel that the main problem that comes with hoax stories is that people believe what they want to hear, and don’t resort to fact checking or common sense if it is something that is in favor of their opinion. This was definitely the case with the election this year. People felt so strongly on both sides and only believed what was in their sides favor. People need to be more cautious when believing internet sources and use good judgement.

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  24. Jordyn Miller

    With social media being such a large part of our lives now, it is almost impossible to go one day without seeing a hoax or something untrue on the internet. I think most of the time, if the story is something people want to hear–like a story putting down their opposing political candidate–they want to believe it right away, without even thinking about fact checking. Throughout the coming year, it is imperative that we all remember to fact check and do our research, if not for our own safety and knowledge, then at least so we know what is true in an argument.

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