The Rise of the "Fake News" Era: Nothing New for #Pharma | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

It was about a decade ago when Stephen Colbert, host of The Colbert Report, a satirical show on Comedy Central, coined the term “truthiness” to describe a spate of prominent public figures in the news playing fast and loose with the facts… who were largely caught in their own fabrications. (See my blog from back then on Truthiness). Truthiness was defined as the feeling that something was true, despite contradictory evidence.


Compared with today’s “fake news,” the truthiness of yesteryear seems tame. Consider the potentially chilling effect that fake news could have on the practice of public relations.


Consider this:

  • Social media continues to grow as a dominant news distributor and was a huge factor in proliferating fake news. A Pew Research survey this year reported 62% of adults (62%) get news on social media, and 18% do so often. Two-thirds of Facebook users (66%) get news on the site, and six in 10 get news on Twitter.
  • When you add in the ability of social media algorithms to “vet” what people would rather read, as well as enable people to self-select the news and views they prefer, the task of educating the public about important issues becomes harder.
  • In fact, “Americans’ trust and confidence in the mass media ‘to report the news fully, accurately and fairly’ has dropped to its lowest level …in history,” according to a September 2016 Gallup poll. Just 32% say they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the media. This is down eight percentage points from the previous year.


In an opinion piece in Forbes, public relations professional Robert Wynne says we are living in a post-factual fake news world where Americans disagree on fundamental facts – he sees the end of mass media and the emergence of micro-targeting to audiences.