Should we trust the media to tell the truth?

22nd June 2022 by Rachael Bruce

Like ostriches burying their heads in the sand, almost half of Brits (46%) say the actively avoid reading the news.

Many who took part in the Digital News Report 2022 claim there’s ‘too much news about politics and COVID-19’. The impact of politics and the pandemic on all aspects of society can’t be underestimated and yet there appears to be a growing sense of fatigue amongst the public.  Perhaps they are becoming bored of the spin being pedalled by politicians and challenged by journalists and are hoping to forget the restrictions we all endured for so long in the fight against the virus.

But not reading, watching or listening doesn’t mean whatever is making the headlines isn’t happening and isn’t impacting on people’s lives.

The same survey, by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ), found that trust in the UK media had dived recently despite rising slightly during Covid. Just 34% polled in 2022 said they trusted UK news, compared to 51% in 2015.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, The Sun was the UK’s least trusted news brand out of 15 major UK titles included in the survey, followed by The Daily Mail and The Daily Mirror; while the BBC remained the most trusted and biggest news brand in the UK.

Having made the switch from journalist to PR pro more than 10 years ago, the results of the survey sadden me, but they certainly don’t surprise me.

The old adage “don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story” still rings true for some journalists and editors today. But there also those reputable reporters who are keen to discover the truth and present a full and balanced story from all sides.

At Active PR we encourage our clients to be proactive – whether it’s good news or bad – and put their side of the story across from the start. If a news hound sniffs out a story, we recommend providing carefully considered and balanced statement. Offering “no comment” or saying “there’s no one available” doesn’t mean they won’t run the piece, just that your business won’t have its side of the story heard.

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Fake news is making headlines… again

9th March 2022 by Kate Logan

Perhaps a phrase most famously adopted by ex-President of the United States Donald Trump, and deployed whenever he felt it convenient, “fake news” is back in the spotlight again.

This week Russia censored journalists working in the country by imposing a strict new law banning purported fake news about its armed forces from being reported. Those who are seen to have overstepped could face up to 15 years in prison.

The BBC News website has dedicated a whole section to fake news. It is currently filled with several disturbing headlines linked to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

One of those headlines – “False claims that Ukraine War is a Hoax go Viral” – is shocking to say the least given the scale of the humanitarian tragedy currently unfolding in the country.

Unfortunately, it is not the first such conspiracy theory or “fake news” story that has spread rapidly over social media and messaging apps about a major global event. The online world was only recently awash with an unprecedented amount of false notions around the Covid pandemic and its vaccines.

Fake news i.e. deliberate misinformation or propaganda (not genuine news branded fake by the likes of Trump just because the narrative didn’t suit him) presents a real danger to life and democracy.

It seems those intent on spreading fabricated stories continue to do so unabashed, despite their motivations being unfathomable to most of us.

I will end this article with a salute to the journalists standing firm on the front line in Ukrainian warzones as well as those in Russia, many of whom have resumed their reporting despite the enormous strain they must feel.

One of those journalists is a former colleague of mine from my time as a news reporter for a national news agency, who continues to undertake a role that requires more courage than I could ever hope to have.

For them, and the Ukrainian civilians facing unimaginable hardship, we must continue to call out genuine fake news, teach our children what to look out for and do our research before inadvertently spreading misinformation ourselves.

The BBC even provides a video guide targeting younger viewers about how to spot misleading stories.

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