People need to stop saying
Fabricated storytelling has become commonplace in public discourse. It’s a form of fake news that erodes trust between an organisation and the public.
There’s a growing trend in public life for political, civic and business leaders to share everyday conversations to support an argument.
“A lot of people are saying” and “many people have told me” are used to add context to a story and personalise it for an audience without providing a reference or evidence for a source.
They are statements of dubious authenticity that cannot be checked. The result is that the public has no way of knowing whether it’s bullshit and commonly accept it as fact.
It’s a common tactic in politics where new stories go unchecked and are widely circulated by the media. A bold assertion reported as fact quickly becomes a matter of public record or colloquialism.
President Trump has elevated the approach to an art form. It’s a standard part of his communication playbook that he uses the technique to promote and divide public opinion on topics ranging from his opponents to foreign policy.
We all have a role to play in questioning authority and the media. If you work in marketing or public relations you need to go a step further and provide evidence for your sources.