Amid the ongoing controversy surrounding “fake news”, PR veteran and innovator Karla Jo Helms, founder and CEO of JoTo PR, proposes a contrarian theory: “fake news” has actually benefited the media, consumers and businesses alike. “We’ve seen an increase in the number of media outlets carrying news to the public, and the amount of content the media is putting out.”
Since “fake news” emerged as a topic of global debate, public trust in the media dropped to 43%, says the report. Even though daily newspaper publishers have watched their weekday circulation plummet from 62 million to an estimated 35 million over a span of 26 years, 93% of adults in the U.S. have turned to getting their news online through mobile devices or desktops.
Even The New York Times is trying to figure out how to handle this insane demand for information by putting out 230 articles a day, 365 days a year. Reuters reports that online news services have recently experienced record growth; from November 2016 to June 2017 The New York Times added more than 500,000 digital subscribers; The New Yorker added 250,000 and The Wall Street Journal added 200,000, says the report. In addition, U.S. online news payments jumped from 9% to 16% between 2016 and 2017, and donations have tripled in the last year.
“Though some claim ‘fake news’ is hastening the demise of traditional media, says the report, the reality is that the shifting media landscape now favors the immediacy and accessibility of online reporting,” said Helms. If anything, the ‘fake news’ phenomenon has created a greater appreciation for journalism that exhibits integrity, objectivity and accuracy. While 91% of journalists believe the public trusts them less than they did three years ago, most journalists have affirmed their commitment to accuracy: 92% state that “being right is more important than being first”.
Media outlets that have adapted to meet consumer expectations are finding that it’s possible to thrive in today’s market, and that a growing number of people are willing to pay for quality reporting. In the United States, 69% of adults use at least one social media site and 51% rely on social media for news, yet only 20% feel social media does a good job of helping users separate fact from fiction.
The report concludes that this hasn’t caused people not to read the news, it has caused them to be even more voracious on their news perusals and fact-checking. For example, consumers are spending upwards of five hours a day online on mobile devices, 92% of that online viewing done in apps for social media, news, entertainment, etc.And 57% of the business-to-business “buying process” begins online, before anyone contacts a company, searching up to twelve sources before coming to that informed decision.
Finally, says the report, the proliferation of fake news has boosted media’s demand for “relevant, authoritative and accurate content, which is good news for businesses that can provide it…”