…it’s in the eye of the beholder.
Truth, as seen in the context of the referendum.
It’s suspect, handed down from above, seen as establishment truth. People came to distrust all facts as ‘handed down’. False information, rumour, scandal came to have the same status as facts.
Deliberate manipulation of the news, by mis-statement (the NHS £350 million), or by presentation (the infamous UKIP refugee advertisement).
The Remain campaign tried to fight fantasy with fact, ‘but they quickly found that the the currency of fact had been badly debased’. (Katharine Viner.) Facts were labelled as Project Fear and ‘quickly neutralised by opposing facts’. ‘This is a disastrous mistake that ends up by obscuring truth, and echoes how some report climate change.’
The BBC were, sadly, a prime example of this tendency.
Viner also refers to the way that many news organisations have ‘steered themselves away from public-interest journalism and toward ‘junk-food news’. Chasing readers, chasing advertising, and for online readers chasing clicks. What is equally worrying is the mixing of the two, apparently hard news with sex and scandal.
Hard news has to function in the same way – as scandal. Minimise the effort required of the reader.
Truth isn’t sufficient unto itself. It needs a helping hand.