Influencing Society Because Words Matter. And There’s no Such Thing as Fake News. #38 #cong20


How can we create a society on misinformation and mistrust? Civics education, well-funded and respected journalism, and emotional intelligence are foundations for tomorrow.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Stop saying ‘fake news’ as it undermines our much needed 4th estate
  2. Media has always manipulated and society needs to understand how it will tomorrow
  3. Pay for good journalism
  4. If we don’t meet emotionally first, facts will never matter

About Keith Morrison:

 I work in marketing and communications for a global engineering and construction. My job has focused us on reinventing and transforming our global position and brand in providing sustainable infrastructure.

From Ireland to the UK to China to Korea and now Singapore, I’ve worked abroad for the majority of career now.
I sit on the board of Asia Pacific Association of Communications Directors…and the Board of Gaelic Lions FC: the best football team in Singapore! Can’t wait to get back out!

I’m 11 years in Singapore where I met my wife and where my two children were born.

I don’t know how long I’ll last into the night!

Contacting Keith Morrison

You can connect with Keith on LinkedIn

By Keith Morrison

Influencing society because words matter. And there’s no such thing as fake news.

Rumours. Propaganda. Misinformation. Lies. Sloppy. Misleading. Clickbait*. Out-of-context; out-of-date. Doctored. And, sometimes, darn right inconvenient.

There’s been a movement within journalism since the inauguration of President Donald J Trump in the United States to stop using the term ‘fake news’. It is weaponized and undermines our fourth estate.

And god knows, news media needs all the help it can get as we create society 3.0.

Newspapers have always had a purpose

Let’s not be naive, please. We’ve always been manipulated, influenced through the media.

Now it just seems far more pervasive, repetitive, big-data-like. It’s a matter of volume and it’s getting harder to switch off as we bunker down in lockdowns with our eyes and fingers glued to our devices.

The COVID-19 pandemic has restored trust in Government in most parts of the world (for now); according to the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer Spring Update, it is at all time high – the first time it’s ever led Media, Business and NGOs in the study’s 20 year run. Our faith in Media – and a glimmer of hope – has improved but the specter of fake news looms large: two thirds of the respondents worried that a lot of ‘fake news’ and false information was being spread about the virus.

It’s getting more difficult to find information we trust. What’s more the information we trust is probably reinforced by a confirmation bias, further adding to our echo chambers and groupthink that endanger the harmony of our societies.

Education has to constantly evolve with our new society

Civics education seems like a good place to start. CSPE was before my time – my weekly 40 minutes Civics classes were based on whatever the teacher thought was cool from the Beatles to the Aran Islands – but understanding the convergence of an increasingly complex digital world and the levers and functioning of society seem pretty critical for our children to cope with the trappings of the 5G data economy around the corner. We need to arm the next generation with the mental tools and critical thinking to decipher and know when their emotions are manipulated from being scammed online to mobilized into a political movement.

Not that protest is bad. Voicing grievances and opposition is healthy; we’ve seen social media catalyse and mobilise important public protest and awareness this year. But movements encapsulated by slogans on Twitter can be easily twisted, reconstructed and reinterpreted, and leads to opposing groups entrenching their views and all too easily siding with their – that term again – confirmation bias.

We need well-funded and independent journalism

All hail the importance of long form content and the art of reading. One thing you can do: subscribe to trusted media outlets and pay for quality journalism.

Shrinking marketing budgets are not good news for advertising-dependent newspapers and magazines; globally it will fall from $49.2 billion in 2019 to $36 billion in 2024 (27% decline in 5 years), according to PwC’s Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2020–2024. Despite boosts in subscriptions over the pandemic, such revenue is also expected to fall from $58.7 billion in 2019 to $50.4 billion in 2024. The industry is being slowly decimated, and we need to save our fourth estate.

Are Facebook, YouTube, Twitter media or media platforms? Can we trust them or should they be regulated – and by whom and where?

On November 11th, as Donald Trump struggled with conceding the 2020 US Presidential election, five of the world’s top posts were from his account on Facebook, according to CrowdTangle. All these posts were labelled as violating Facebook’s rules, yet they still received the most likes, comments and shares globally.

Something’s not quite right and healthy.


Emotions first, facts later

Post-truth became the 2016 Oxford English dictionary word of the year around the time of the President’s inauguration. Post-truth recognizes that the public is more greatly influenced by emotional appeals rather than objective facts.

Today, my job as a marketing and communications professional within – let’s face it — the rather dull world of B2B engineering and construction focuses on engaging with buying centres in more authentic and emotional ways. Fact-based benefits are table-stakes in gaining attention of new customers who are seeking to transform their businesses or projects.

Thankfully those fact-based benefits still drive the bottom line of any credible buyer once you’ve cut through the attention filters. But the emotional appeal is critical.

To me it reflects a lot how discourse is evolving in our societies. For a better world we need greater emotional intelligence and empathy that anticipates and recognizes others for who they are; accepts people who are not like us; and accepts people with strong opposing viewpoints to our own. To connect first we need emotional security.

If don’t meet there, facts won’t matter.

*Yes, my title is a little…

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