Our Values – 2. Credible Content – Why It Matters
Following on from our recent blog on Editorial Excellence we present the second blog in the series outlining our values. This week we want to talk all about Credible Content, something that is very close to our hearts.
“The pen is mightier than the sword”
Edward Bulwer-Lytton in Richelieu (1839)
Much is said about the state of journalism today to suggest that we’re being overloaded with the same old stories, lacking that much-needed spark of imagination. In some cases, stories are circulated in the public domain which are plain falsehoods – untruths which do much to damage the bond of trust between writer and reader.
You just need to look at the controversy that’s been dominating news headlines this week, after Twitter was forced to apply fact check labels to US President Donald Trump’s tweets.
Here at InsideCopy, Credible Content is one of our core values – in an era of fake news proliferation, clickbait and fast-paced judgements on issues (like much-publicised Twitter storms and pile-ons), we believe in adding to the sum of human knowledge.
This means producing content that’s not just engaging to read, but most importantly, has the sources to back itself up.
Learn how we do just that.
Fake news through the ages
We worry about the rise of so-called fake news, but in actual fact, the dissemination of factually incorrect information has been going on for centuries.
According to some, one of the oldest forms of fake news dates back 3,000 years to an ancient Babylonian text inscribed on a clay tablet, known as the Epic of Gilgamesh. Scholars dub it “fake news”, as the tablet speaks of a water god tricking a Babylonian Noah-like figure into building an ark, promising to rain a shower of wheat upon him.
All is not what it seems, however, and the Epic of Gilgamesh demonstrates how language can conceal all kinds of hidden truths. What sounds like a reward of wheat from the skies could also be interpreted as the water god simply planning to make rainfall as thick as grains of wheat instead. This intentional ambiguity reflects how easy it is to get the wrong end of the stick.
Words have weight and meaning, and in the right hands, they can be used to add to the sum of human knowledge. If not, people might use words to sow seeds of doubt, causing controversy and blurring the line between what we know for sure and what is an outright untruth.
Going back to the source
With seven billion people on the planet, it can seem like an impossible task to be objective or to deliver content which you know to be completely credible, when there are just so many voices to choose to listen to, and only so much time to talk about them all.
Even so, facts are facts, and some sources of information are more reliable than others. One of the golden rules of journalism is to avoid getting caught up in tittle-tattle, and always strive to corroborate a story before you even consider putting pen to paper.
Using a primary source in the work you do is a reliable way of helping deliver Credible Content – if in doubt about something, it always helps to go back down memory lane and find some useful first-hand accounts.
How not to do Credible Content
An example of people failing to provide Credible Content is when not one, but two high-profile journalists incorrectly tweeted out claims about a Labour activist punching a Conservative advisor during last year’s heated general election campaign.
No punch was ever thrown in actual fact, but because two senior journalists from two well-respected broadcasters had helped share something to the contrary, a falsehood was accepted as fact, at least for a few hours. It was only when concrete evidence in the form of a video recording (a primary source) emerged, that people realised something was wrong.
Writers have a responsibility to maintain the trust of readers – churning out something topical but incorrect can seem like the easy option and can deliver you lots of traffic and a seemingly healthy buzz, but it actually abuses the trust readers have in you. It also does great damage to the industry of copywriting at large.
If one person doesn’t make the effort to provide Credible Content, it could encourage lazy writing and do damage to the public sphere. The reverse is also true – if you make the effort to add something new to our understanding of the world, it will inspire more people to make the effort too.
The inside track
Are you on board with the different way we do things at InsideCopy? Excellent.
We’re here to act as an extension of your brand and help you achieve your goals this year, from boosting your customer conversions to building your brand’s authority and trust.