By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)
Have plans for this weekend? Want something fascinating — but sobering — to read?
Let me suggest the 2019 IPR Disinformation in Society Report.
Certainly, this study, published by the Institute for Public Relations, is not a traditional page-turner or as compelling as a work of fiction or a celebrity biography. But, if you’re a public relations professional, or if you care about the state and direction of modern American society, you should allocate time to read this provocative document.
Full disclosure: I have not read the full Report, but I will. I did read the nine key findings presented and gained validation from some for what I have perceived to be significant problems today: Misinformation is detrimental to the nation; President Donald Trump is the leading proponent of spreading lies; false social media are the prime culprits for erroneous communication.
But I did advance personal understanding in a few other areas: A high percentage of Americans seek out other sources to confirm truth and accuracy; and family, cohorts and friends are the most trusted sources of information.
The Public Relations Society of America, of which I am a long-standing member, acknowledged the IRP report in this statement. I wholeheartedly concur with PRSA. Dissemination of accurate and truthful information is the foundation of modern public relations, and it’s the ethical responsibility of PRSA members to adhere to this practice.
In this space, I’ve addressed disinformation/misinformation/false truth/lies/fabrication/fake news (or what ever term is appropriate or popular) frequently. Regarding President Trump, I’ve addressed his penchant for lying and fabricating facts and beliefs in a post published in May of 2016 and in another post published two days after his November 2016 election victory.
Want to gain a better perspective? The Washington Post maintains this database of “false or misleading” claims made by the President.
Back to the IPR report. The study does not offer solutions on how to end or even curtail the unfettered propagation of false information. But it keeps the conversation alive and at the forefront of conversation today.
That’s where it should be.