The editor of the New Yorker, David Remnick, spoke at Cannes Lions: “If we immerse ourselves in deception, sooner or later we lose.”
Fake news is a concept that is coming to define the information, or shall we say misinformation, era.
As various online platforms arise, providing extraordinary accessibility to a target audience formerly only available to the traditional gatekeepers of the media. The lines in between truth, and fiction, are increasingly blurred.
So how can ideas, and reality, be communicated successfully as well as sensibly?
David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker, took to the stage at Cannes Lions to review how brands, publishers and content curators could maintain a credible voice in the age of untruth.
THE RISING TIDE
Remnick, in his New Yorker post since 1998, talked about the state of the world as it has been defined by the information era, describing "the rising tide of bullshit."
Remembering Jon Stewart's 'bullshit mountain' allegory, he proceeded: "We’ve reached the summit of bullshit mountain... and you have to wonder if we’ll find our way down again."
David Remnick compared the spread of fake news to environmental concerns, one of the subjects seemingly most susceptible to the impulses of fake news producers:
“We cannot and will not eliminate untruth entirely. Like pollution. But how can we reduce it, and breath a little better, and avoid the toxic cloud of our own making?”
While keeping in mind the increased spread of fake news being "powered by speed and ubiquity," Remnick was quick to suggest that social media and new online platforms, while intensifying the spread, were by no means the originators of the problem:
“No one should romanticise the old media landscape. The sins of even the best outlets are well documented.”
GETTING DONALD TRUMP INTO WHITE HOUSE
The spectre of the 2016 United States election campaign loomed large over Remnick's session, as he talked about the unsupported claims upheld by Trump throughout his campaign and the early days of his presidency:
“It’s no longer funny. The stakes are immense. His abuse of the truth is an emergency.”
The New Yorker editor quoted Barack Obama's opinion that in the new media landscape "everything is true and nothing is true." It's a scenario that influences everyone:
"Whether you’re an executive at a social media company, or just use social media to press a point or further your business, an advertiser or pursuing advertising.
All of us are citizens of the world and we all have a stake in the crucial discussion about information, fact and truth.”
There's no fast solution, and the problems ahead are myriad: “If we find excuses to ignore the crisis, we will drown.”
So how can the traditional media best fight the fake news situation?: “The battle has to be fought tirelessly... invest, support and keep faith in your journalism.”