The Post-Fact Society

68P.T. Barnum, among many others, is credited with saying: “I don’t care what they say about me, just make sure they spell my name right!”

Barnum knew it wasn’t important what people said about him as long as they were talking about him. Only the noise level about Barnum mattered.

When I saw this chart from The DataFace measuring the newspaper media coverage of the two presidential candidates, it was eye opening.  68a It mattered little that most of that coverage was negative. What mattered was they spelled “Trump” correctly.

Fake News

Once upon a time, news came from journalists who worked for newspapers, radio and television stations.

Then along came the iPhone and social media.

Now the same device that could receive text, voice, pictures and video could produce it too.

Social media platforms provided mass distribution without a filter (aka an editor).

This provided the perfect storm for the production of fake news. A cottage industry in some parts of the world, some American citizens soon learned that producing internet stories that would get lots of clicks could be profitable.

Radio & Fake News

Even syndicated radio host Sean Hannity got snared in the volume of fake news being generated and had to apologize for using fake news stories to attack Obama.

Ad Supported Media Fight for Survival

In an effort to make a little coin, trusted media sources began accepting advertising that would lead their readers, listeners, viewers to unaffiliated sources that would serve up this fake news. In so doing, they inadvertently now wore the stink of the fake news creators. The public quickly could not discern the researched and sourced news from the made-up variety.

One PM Central Standard Time

Radio and television journalism didn’t always operate this way. PBS produced an excellent documentary about the coverage of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The program was called “One PM Central Standard Time” and it covered how “the most trusted man in America” Walter Cronkite waited until Kennedy’s death was confirmed by  multiple sources before going live with the news to the nation over the CBS radio and television networks.

The Being First Obsession

Things changed when things started being published digitally. In this world, advertising paid based on clicks. Quantity beat quality. Sensational beat facts. Going viral meant big money to these new media folks. Plus the concept of “native advertising” means that advertising copy is presented to look like editorial.

All of these little changes contributed to consumers becoming less and less able to tell real news from what was fake news. Which has led to many not believing anything today’s media tells them.

And that’s a very sad state of affairs for journalism.

“Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”
–Thomas Jefferson

21st Century Business Model Challenge

Starting with newspapers, then radio, then TV then digital, the business model has been one of ad supported media. The model is broken.

Disruption first destroys the old ways of doing things before the new ways are discovered and take root. We are living in that destruction period of disruption.

Our challenge lies in building a business model that will support solid journalism, quality entertainment and community service.

What others have shown us is that in a 21st Century world it will take a collaborative effort from people from all over the world to help build the new way.


Filed under Education, Mentor, Radio, Sales, Uncategorized

11 responses to “The Post-Fact Society

  1. Too True. My first response to any big news story I see on the Internet is to wonder if it’s true or not. I seldom had that reaction to things I read in magazines and newspapers in the pre-internet era.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What bothers this media vet is that we literally have to double check stories with before we can “be second and get it right and not first and get it wrong”.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fake News used to be called propaganda. Read & believe applies to social media and even The New York Times. Trusted journalists are accountable. Pac money should not be used for negativity. Disruption is dangerous without positive change. We can build a business model supporting “Solid journalism, quality entertainment and community service.” Thanks, Dick. I’m All In for Collaboration! Clark


  4. On almost a daily basis, I see a Facebook post in which someone has linked to a story that seems so outrageous, I just have to follow it and see for myself. Often it is to a reputed “news organization” I have never heard of and, I therefore have no sense of it’s credibility, so I take their “facts” with a grain of salt. But how many folks use Facebook and other social media as their news source? “I read it on the internet, therefore it must be true.” Main stream media isn’t much better. We used to laugh at the “check out rags” at the supermarket (President Obama meets with aliens from Mars), now they are quoted in news stories??? Faster isn’t always better, and being the first, but wrong isn’t journalism! In part, I blame 24 hour TV news for some of this. The need to have something to say, and to fill time, gives a ready made audience and credibility to these “sources”.


    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ken Dardis

    Well written, but will anyone listen? Ditto on your “The Future of Ad Supported Media” article.

    The challenge is not just with being first, but in trying to sell impressions against platforms that sell CPM by the pennies. Radio must change how it prices; not abandoning CPM, but introducing a stronger presence for CPC options.

    Note my concern with …advertising paid based on clicks.” This performance priced advertising is swimming in waters where CPM pricing drowns. There’s too much inventory, and radio’s insistence on holding firm to CPM is against the stream –

    An article containing numbers is at

    Liked by 1 person

  6. In an analysis of more than 1,000 posts on Facebook pages across the political spectrum, BuzzFeed News found that some of the least accurate pages registered some of the highest engagement. And the election neared, some of the top “news” stories from hoax sites generated more engagement than the some of the top news stories from non-hoax sites.


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