Stop the Misinformation, I mean it. Anybody want a peanut?
A fabled Renaissance Age “swordsman” once drunkenly pontificated to himself that he must go “back to the beginning,” for this was where he was told (by Vizzini), “...if the job goes wrong, you go back to the beginning.” One might say, this was his moment of clarity. The word ‘clarity’ is key here and now. It’s central to how we, the Democratic Republic, move forward in our communication environment; how we receive and process information and relate it to the business of living amongst one another and formulating opinions and ideas. While it remains extremely challenging to navigate, even for communication professionals, the abundance of news and information flowing into our smartphones, televisions, and tablets; it has become of equal consequence how we decipher that which is truthful, factual, or otherwise disingenuous or created in order to drive a particular train of thought. I will leave the in-depth research on the psychology of the Misinformation Age to those certified professionals who will undoubtedly garner six-figure book deals for this period in our history. What I wish to focus on is what we do at present to get ourselves back into the starting blocks.
One of the goals for ProVision Advisors as we look toward the new year upon us is to reinvigorate the fundamentals of communication and those core principles which drive transparency and respect within our information sharing process. This commitment to a ‘Back To Basics’ philosophy becomes a primary element in how we consult, plan, and execute our services to our clients. It’s the rudimentary rubric we were trained in -- from the beginning. In the book, Leadership (A Norton Anthology), edited by Elizabeth Samet, I pay particularly close attention to the chapter, ‘Taking Responsibility.’ Within it, I find interest in the Mediations of Marcus Aurelius as predicated on “the ground motives of human action.” Which in short, the Roman emperor warns in finding something preferable to justice and truth...to a mind self-satisfied with its own rational conduct. Rather one should examine all impressions...be helpful and benevolent to mankind. Aurelius laments, focusing on your own peculiar good can become unlawful, perverting the mind and therefore failing to capture what is rational and politically good. I’m paraphrasing, but it’s clear the emperor knew then what we are seeing unfold in 2020.
Collectively we have lost a bit of steerage on what constitutes an examination of wider aperture, to take in more than what exists under selfish premise, and in fact give way to more rational and secure inquiry. I recommend this entire chapter as I firmly believe it captures our current news landscape. If I were to offer three basic steps to follow in the days, weeks, and months ahead as we make our way into the new year, with a new administration in the driver’s seat, it would be the following: 1. Ensure diversification in your news coverage. (Move beyond one channel, newspaper, or digital platform. Be wary of the hazards of an echo chamber.)
2. Communication professionals and individuals alike, take the time to cross-reference your news and information. Solidify statements, secure fact-based notions, opinions, and commentary.
3. Lead with content….not clicks. There has long been a drive among newsroom editor’s tables and production rooms to be first with the news. What we’ve fallen prey to in this race to deliver “Breaking News” is that the track has become wrought with the perils of misinformation and greater guessing than reporting. Although the focus may continue to revolve around number of CLICKS, there is hope we find our way toward a competition for the relevance of content and the pertinence of integrity in communicating information that is of utmost value to your audience.
It is my sincere hope our newsrooms, reporters, spokespersons, and communication professionals respond to such a notion with a collective, “...As you wish.”
I for one do not think it is inconceivable.