09 February 2017

How real facts beat alternative facts

Mainstream and stakeholder-driven media (Center for Public Integrity, Greenpeace or Breitbart for instance), have never been more polarised: as the former’s aim at neutrally imparting news to the general public is alienating entire demographics, the latter seems to be thriving with its strong support for smaller pockets of readers to influence the topics they care about. Mark Lee Hunter, Luk N. Van Wassenhove and Maria Besiou expose in the following article, and in their new book, how stakeholder-driven media can remedy to the many issues of the news industry today. This topic will be discussed at the GEN Summit 2017 in Vienna 21–23 June.

Do “alternative facts” count more than straight facts? That’s the narrative of the Trump administration, as it basks in a narrow victory despite the opposition of the near-totality of American mainstream media (MSM). But it would be more accurate to say that fake news beats thin news. Trump targeted an industry that, according to the benchmark Pew Center’s studies, has steadily lost capacity, credibility and audiences over the past two decades. Downsizing left a hole, and Trump drove through it.

Meanwhile, certain parts of the news industry have been growing just as steadily. We call them “stakeholder-driven media” (SDM).