Trust and The Truth

Have you noticed the trust people put in Wikipedia?

Country music artists have told me fans believe everything in their Wikipedia profiles.  When the Wiki data contradicts the official online posting:  fans believe Wikipedia.

This happened to me a few years ago when a fan started telling me about the origin of my radio station’s call-letters.  Without being a DB, I let them know the real history of the calls.  They didn’t believe me.  That’s not what is says on Wikipedia …

I love Wikipedia and use it to learn about places I visit and to research people from history.  But I always keep in mind that crowd sourced means just that – written by someone who’s objectivity is already tainted by their desire to write on this subject.

This isn’t new.  Years ago I was in a job interview and the GM asked me about my time at a certain radio station.  When I told him I had never worked there, he looked stumped and called-up a Wikipedia page with a list of the station’s alumni.  There was a Bob Walker there, but I’m positive it was not me.  But in parentheses after my name, it said current program director for (station).

Yup.  That was me.  Except it wasn’t.  

Someone editing the page had confused me with the other BW. At that point, the GM seemed almost irritated that I was questioning what was online and I’m sure it ended the interview (for the best … thank you.).

When I was in Milwaukee, a local blogger (who posted on the site of a legitimate media outlet) cited a reason our long-time morning talent at  WKTI was retiring.  Being there at the time, I knew it was not true.  Yet the local paper picked-up on it and probed me about it during their piece (I was the PD).  The more I denied it, the more the reporter thought I was hiding something and became aggressive.  A year after the event, I saw it in Wikipedia as if it happened.

Fake News!

Fortunately, Wikipedia can be updated and the entry has been changed.  This is not true for a YouTube video or other media stories that may live forever in cyberspace to collect hits and views.

The fake news we hear about today is politicians and media duking it out.  They both have it in for each other and the public is left to sort it all out.  Politicians tell bold lies.  The media tells the story from a point of view that attracts the biggest audience.  The the Russians step-in with RT and fuel the fire to the point of explosion.

Yet fake news is also allowing one small, tinyJason Aldean - THE TRUTH
misrepresentation to be accepted as truth … eventually growing and changing the dialogue of the conversation.  With crowd-sourced media exploding in popularity, I’m not sure we can fix it – especially with nobody going on the record anymore.

My radio talent knows to ask an artist – before the interview – about something they saw in Wikipedia.  So many times that artist is grateful because Wikipedia may be 98% accurate:  but it’s that 2% inaccuracy that can fester and cause P.R. problems.

Where does this leave the truth?  As one super-start artist told about his Wikipedia inaccuracy:  he’s been hearing it for so long:  he sometimes is convinced it is the truth.

Is this a trust issue?  People do not trust “official” anything.  When there is tension in your sports team’s clubhouse – who do you trust to explain it?  Team officials or bloggers and talk-show hosts?

Official entities have been spinning facts for so long, that the public assumes it’s all spin.  Guilt by association.

Talk-shows and blogs are also spin (to attract an audience).  But when a master story-teller lays it all out:  it feels real.  And when you are hearing it from a point of view that matches your own:  it becomes real.

A long-time colleague told me last year that you never know how inaccurate the news can be, until you read/watch/hear a story of which you have first-hand knowledge.

I can think of at least three times in my life when that is true.  I have watched news in total disbelief.  Yet I am not going to source any of this because I am not purporting to tell the truth.  This is my opinion.  Take it … or leave it.

If you trust me, it is the truth.

That is media 2018.

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