The Truth is Out There?

August 12, 2015

Our local paper, The Reading Eagle, recently ran a column on trustworthiness in the news[1].

The columnist, Andy Andrews, mused about recent developments raising substantial questions about the reliability of “news” on the Internet. In particular, he focused on online trolls that are continually spreading misinformation about business in the form of news releases or stories, ranging from chemical explosions to takeover offers.

These all had in common (1) that they were hoaxes, and (2) that they were believed by many readers because they “looked right”.

Lesson: When you find something new in the news on the Internet, particularly if it is just an emerging story, verify, do not just trust (with a tip of the hat to former President Reagan). While it is important to get new intelligence in circulation so you and your firm can (re)act, it is much more important to get it right!

The same danger lies in giving credence to stories in an emerging situation, from reliable or official sources. Many of details of a “breaking” story, whether about business, politics, or crime, are almost always incomplete, inaccurate, misdirected, or miscommunicated (select any or all of the above). Always keep that in mind.

You are not in the news business. You are in the intelligence business. Your job is to be right, not first.

[1] Andy Andrews, “In news we trust, part 2”, Reading Eagle, August 9, 2015, p. F1.

 


2 Comments on “The Truth is Out There?”

  1. babette900 says:

    Love your last paragraph! Well said John.

  2. […] Our local paper, The Reading Eagle, recently ran a column on trustworthiness in the news. The columnist, Andy Andrews, mused about recent developments raising substantial questions about the reliability of “news” on the Internet. In particular, he focused on online trolls that are continually spreading misinformation about business in the form of news releases or stories, ranging from chemical explosions to takeover offers.  […]


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