Local Media Consortium members, partners release position statement on so-called ‘fake news’

Staff Reports • Updated Jan 19, 2017 at 12:30 PM

Concerned with the proliferation of fake news and its potential to tarnish the credibility of real journalism, the Local Media Consortium published a position statement Wednesday on “fake news” – or what it prefers to call digital propaganda. 

The LMC is a strategic partnership of leading local media companies, including The Lebanon Democrat, that represent more than 1,600 news sites in thousands of communities across the United States. The complete position statement is published on the LMC website at localmediaconsortium.com/fakenews with excerpts published in members’ editorials.

“Every day we work with heavily vetted, high-quality service providers that share our commitment to foster growth in the digital age so we can preserve the media’s watchdog role without fear or favor,” said Rusty Coats, executive director of the LMC. “Our members and partners comprise a powerful representation of the business, publishing and tech world. We are releasing this position paper to affirm our commitment and strength in numbers to quash the reach and destructiveness of digital propaganda.”

The LMC’s position and principles on fake news include:

• Refuse to reward misinformation: The LMC urges its members, partners and the ad-tech industry to more fully vet the companies and organizations with which they do business. It implores advertisers, marketers and the adtech community to refuse to reward “news” from untrustworthy sites. It applauds Google’s commitment to develop policies to keep ads off dubious news sites, and it asks others to follow suit.

• Support local: The local news media plays a vital role in protecting against misinformation. The LMC calls on readers, viewers and corporate America to recognize the value of reputable, local news organizations. Get to know local journalists and broadcasters. When reading a “news” story, become familiar with its source and confirm that it is associated with a reputable parent news organization.

• Acknowledge that fake news is not news at all: “Fake news” should not be put on par with “light news” or “odd news.” Rather it is purposeful misinformation, misdirection and propaganda. The LMC calls on its members and the industry as a whole to remind those within the business and political arenas that it has high journalistic standards when it comes to news.

• Look Within: The LMC asks its members and partners look within their own newsrooms, websites and social media outlets to determine how they can best protect their constituents from deceptive news. This includes educating readers and viewers about examples of this propaganda through editorial content. By refusing to do business with digital propaganda pushers, media outlets have the strength to quash its reach.

“It is deeply concerning to see the sheer scope of digital misinformation propagating around the globe, but assuring to see our members and partners band together to address these concerns head-on,” said Christian A. Hendricks, the McClatchy’s Co.’s vice president for products, marketing and innovation, and LMC executive board member. “We look forward to collaborating with the industry to implement measures that quash the spread of digital propaganda and protect the sustainability of local journalism – one of the principles on which the LMC was founded.”

The Local Media Consortium is a strategic partnership of leading local media companies focused on increasing member companies’ share of digital revenue and audience by pursuing new relationships with a variety of technology companies and service providers. The LMC was founded in 2013 to address the needs of advertisers, which seek to reach high-quality audiences on brand safe local digital properties at scale. In addition, the LMC provides members with access to leading technology and content solutions by fostering key partnerships with companies including Google, Monster, Yahoo and others. LMC membership encompasses more than 75 local media companies in top markets across the United States and Puerto Rico, and includes more than 1,600 publications. The LMC audience footprint currently spans 155 million unique monthly visitors and its member companies serve more than 4 billion page views to readers. 

More information is available at localmediaconsortium.com.

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