At a time when social media dominates the news landscape a torrent of ‘fake news’ is playing on the human desire for bias confirmation and accelerates it with click bait. Trust becomes an increasingly difficult commodity to build and to maintain when the information highway has its own vandals. In the housing development industry there’s something called the broken window theory. A Harvard criminologist had noted that if a broken window in a building went unrepaired, all other windows would soon be broken. Unfixed windows send a message that no one cares enough and that vandalism will go unpunished. Leaving graffiti on the walls evokes the same reaction. If there’s no response to the most petty of crimes, vandals take over the building, lay waste the neighborhood, only those who have no choice live there anymore and fear pervades the air.
In today’s fake news world hackers, propagandists and foreign governments actively seek to sow mistrust on fake news Internet sites. Instead of broken windows it’s broken trust. No one knows who to believe anymore.
Credible spokespeople can help fight back. They can take charge of keeping the information neighborhood clean. They can help keep the windows unbroken and well framed. They can keep the record straight, take charge of the interview agenda, be disciplined in their answers and understand the impact of what they’re saying.