The old saying in journalism that “if your mother says she loves you, check it out” rang true recently with reporters at the Washington Post.
A source claiming to have had personal information about inappropriate relations with US Senate candidate Roy Moore was uncovered to be tied to an advocacy organization that attempted to trick the Post to report false allegations. If successful, it would have shown that the media failed to adequately check out its sources in a rush to print salacious information.
The sting failed, and is being held up as an example of journalists upholding the basic principles of their profession, namely, reporting the truth.
“The intent by Project Veritas clearly was to publicize the conversation if we fell for the trap,” Post Executive Editor Martin Baron said about the sting. “Because of our customary journalistic rigor, we weren’t fooled.”
This latest “undercover investigation” is a good reminder for clients to be aware that anything they say may become a matter of public record, regardless of the circumstances. Think you are talking to an interested student or a job candidate? Think again, they might be undercover and looking to catch you saying something that can further a cause.
It’s scary and unfortunate, but a good rule of thumb is to remember that private conversations are no longer private, and don’t share information that you wouldn’t put in a press release.
In terms of fake reporters, we created this video with tips to help from getting duped:
There was a lot of news coverage of “fake news” leading up to and following the recent presidential election, but after doing some digging, it became clear that fake news and fake news sites are nothing new.
And it’s not just fake news that’s getting attention. I came across a story about how a police department in Central California issued a fake news release to the media to protect a person who was sure to be killed by rival gang members. Many in the local media were highly critical of the police’s actions, but the Santa Maria police made no apologies.
In an ever-shrinking media landscape with fewer and fewer “real” media and reporters, how do you tell real from fake news? The New York Times covered this topic in an appropriately titled headline: Inside a Fake News Sausage Factory: ‘This Is All About Income’. The article covered how a computer science major from Georgia (the country), started creating fake stories about Hillary Clinton on a website he set up, and watched his Google ad sales soar as more and more people found the site. He really started making money when he began creating content about Donald Trump.
At the risk of negatively impacting your blood pressure, there are a few things that our industry needs to figure out – not the least of which are mitigating fake news, and relying on social networks for accurate metrics. We have a couple articles that address those touchy topics this week, and a few that highlight new features within Instagram and Google that could have an impact on your business. That said, don’t forget to check out the last article to help put some things in perspective (and hopefully lower your blood pressure) as well!
Instagram continues to add features, including shopping tags that allow consumer brands to tag products in photographs with a link to purchase. In an obvious challenge to Pinterest, it will be interesting to see how much traffic Instagram will be able to drive to eCommerce sites, and how this update might change the platform’s approach to content.