FORGET ABOUT THE FACTS!

 

Let’s tell some stories instead. (This speech was given on the 16th of July during the Digital-Born Media Carnival 2017 in Kotor, Montenegro.)

 

I am here to tell you that things are both better and worse than we thought.

Let’s start with the term Fake News for a second: I am very critical of that. It is something that not the public, the media or even scientific community have coined, but rather a term that right-wing influencers have introduced. Under our hashtag on twitter you an actually even find a video of Trump admitting that.

In my opinion, the fact that we journalists adopted this term so uncritically is very disconcerting and part of the problem. It ends, as somebody has already said yesterday, in the not very fruitful discussions of different parties telling each other that they are fake news. (What’s interesting is that the phrase is not “you publish fake news” but “you are fake news”. It suggests identity and identification, something reminiscent of the #jesuis-Phenomenon. This formula using the verb to be discredits whole media companies instead of attacking single articles or reports. That might be one of the only things about this media crisis that is actually new.) “You are fake news!” – “No, actually, you are fake news!” The very existence of this term is an attack on media credibility and the media society in general, it’s destabilizing.

We don’t need to rebrand the concept of lies, misinformation and propaganda. Lies, misinformation and propaganda are already pretty good and useful words and, as we need to remember, have always been part of political debate, struggle and discourse in general.

Already here we can see one very important tradition in media communications of the powerful, imperialist and fascists. They introduce concepts and words that are catch to control the narrative. This is, I think, why we should be very wary of using the term Fake News or at least be much more precise in what we talk about. Distraction? Misinformation? Clickbait? Jokes, Memes? Good old propaganda? It is, for us, very important not to put all of these very different things under the umbrella term of Fake News since that is exactly what blurs the lines and shatters the confidence in modern journalism.

The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction …