Truth, Alternative Facts And Advertising

2017 in Ireland should be an interesting year to say the least, as the effects of a Trump presidency and the UK Brexit combine to challenge both our politicians and our business leaders, and probably the confidence, patience and sanity of the general public.  As for 2016, it may best be remembered as the year when both expert view and considered debate were laid aside, and the power of the social meme ushered in the “post-truth” era.

From a media perspective, what has happened in 2016 raises some ethical concerns, which it now seems certain will be the subject of plenty of debate in 2017.  These will likely consider the continuing trend towards a concentration in ownership and influence of some media conglomerates, the role of the free press, and social media’s complicity in distributing “fake news”.  It may also become the year of the “alternative fact”.

Because it now seems, bizarrely, that there is greater oversight of what appears in an advertisement, than what appears in news, comment or social media feeds. 

The advertising code that applies in Ireland states that, “marketing communications should be legal, decent, honest and truthful (and)… should be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society”.

Substitute “marketing” in the above code with any of; “political”, “editorial”, “journalistic” or “social” (and we’ll excuse the requirement to be legal), and I think we can see how poorly served we now are, by both news providers and social media platforms.  Whether it’s through the main stream, or a “filter bubble”, there seems to be have been little appetite to hold individuals or organisations accountable for their words and the outcomes they affect.

So hopefully 2017 will see greater responsibility being borne by our news providers in holding themselves and others to account, perhaps using advertising standards as a benchmark.  Who’d have thought eh?

For more reflections and predictions on all things media, check out our “Future of 2017” at