In 2016, “post-truth” was named word of the year by the Oxford Dictionary. This should come as no surprise to many people, with 2016 being a year of controversial surprises and unexpected events. The political and social panorama during the next few months will be marked by this post-truth climate, where objectivity and rationality give way to emotions, or to a willingness to uphold beliefs even though the facts show otherwise.

In Europe, there were setbacks that few predicted, such as the British population’s decision to leave the European Union, or Italy’s ‘no’ in the referendum on constitutional reform proposed by Matteo Renzi. And it is also worth mentioning the growing support for political parties like France’s National Front, led by Marine Le Pen, or Holland’s Liberal party (PVV)
led by Geert Wilders.

On the other side of the ocean, there’s the fake populist rhetoric, or surprises such as the Colombian rejection in the FARC peace deal referendum, or
Trump’s controversial victory in the U.S. elections. All of these milestones have a common denominator:  personal beliefs—which for many are irrefutable—have gained strength in the face of logic and facts, and have become established as assumptions shared by society, causing bewilderment in public opinion.

New ways of relating to public opinion emerge and alternative media become established

In this climate, new ways of relating to public opinion emerge and alternative media become established. Traditional journalism methods are losing ground with the emergence of new communication channels like personal blogs, YouTube, instant messaging channels such as WhatsApp, Telegram and Facebook Chat, or social media networks like Snapchat or Twitter. A simple tweet can now mobilize the masses and bring about results which would have been inconceivable a few years ago.

The spread of fake news leads to lies becoming commonplace and hence, the relativization of truth. The value or credibility of the media has somewhat faded in comparison to personal opinions. The facts themselves take second place, while “how” a story is told takes precedence over “what”. It is therefore not about what has happened, but rather about listening, seeing and reading the version of facts which more closely fits with each person’s ideology.

In this edition of UNO, we take a look at this uncertain scenario and what the role of the media should be in connecting with audiences.