Political Communications in the "Fake News" Era: Six Lessons for Europe

February 13, 2017
1 min read
Photo credit: Photo credit: qvist / Shutterstock, Inc. 

Photo credit: Photo credit: qvist / Shutterstock, Inc. 

One of the major arguments still raging around Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election is the role played by the media and political communications. The Pope even weighed in, warning the media against an obsession with scandal and “fake news,” because journalists risked falling into “the sickness of coprophilia,” an abnormal and possibly eroticized interest in feces.

The questions seem endless and hard to quantify. Would better communications by the Hillary Clinton campaign have made a difference? What about filter bubbles online that only feed users what they want to read? How can we know that one news article or even news coverage in general really changed a voter’s opinion? Are there any lessons for Europe from the U.S. elections or are the systems simply too different?

The best communications cannot substitute for good governance, but good governance can only succeed with innovative communications techniques to back it up. At a time of disorienting swift change, the most successful politicians will combine older techniques to reach more conventional voters with newer, more granular outreach.