Sunday

'Crisis of Clarity' in Public Diplomacy

The biggest challenge to communications and PD practitioners is not just 'fake news' or 'disinformation' alone. While there has been a lot of talk about the world entering the 'post-truth' era, what we don't see being talked about a lot is the looming 'Crisis of Clarity'.



'Accuracy' is one of the cardinal principles of communications. Closely tied with 'accuracy' is the principle of 'objectivity'. Fake news or disinformation campaigns represent an intentional manipulation of facts and data in order to influence audiences, but what about situations where audiences are not able to process information presented with the best of intentions and with the highest levels of integrity?



Such situations are increasingly real now. Thanks to the dizzying pace of communications, the explosion of media channels and delivery platforms there is an overwhelming flow of information that reaches a given audience at any point in time. Add to it the constant updating of information every minute. 'Clickbait' content that aims to deliver information capsules and gets shared extensively is a natural product of this environment. 


This environment makes it increasingly difficult for communications practitioners to ensure that the message is received as intended and doesn't get lost in the flood of information that is out there. In a world of multichannel communications, professionals are no longer in control of the sources of information that their audiences have access to. For audiences, the challenge is to process this information and arrive at a point of view... And sometimes, take a decision. In the process clarity or objectivity on any topic or issue can get potentially compromised. Throw 'disinformation'  and 'negative partisanship' into the mix and you enter George Orwell's 1984! 

There is no easy answer to this conundrum. However, a good start, maybe, practitioners of media, communications and public diplomacy are conscious about this environment and proactively try to mitigate it. The silver lining is that this situation is equally applicable to the peddlers of disinformation!

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