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Saturday, March 14, 2020

Is Anyone Protecting Books From Fake News?


Image result for fake news free images

We hear a lot about Fake News. Luckily, there are some helpful resources to combat it. Check out News Literacy Project (www.newslit.org) and Media Literary Now (www.MediaLiteracynow.org).

But how do we know what’s truthful, accurate, or honest in our books?

We don’t.

With literally over 4,000 books published in America daily, who is checking to see if they have the facts right – and who is reporting on the findings?

Three-fourths of these new books are not from traditional publishers, meaning they are self-published. But even the traditional presses do not invest enough time and resources to tracking down a book’s veracity, claims, statistics, quotes, etc. Some of it isn’t trackable, but most of what’s in print can be combed through and put through a validation test.

Is it being done?

What do you think?  Just look at how many misspellings or abuses of punctuation exist in today’s books.  If those go undetected, you can bet that the content of these books is largely taken on faith with sometimes a cursory checking of facts.

So what’s the solution, if self-policing doesn’t work?

Ask the government to verify information? Not unless you want books censored and delayed. 

Ask a third-party to do it, like an independent editor, librarian, or researcher?  Sounds good, but do enough of these people exist and can authors or publishers afford to absorb what could be a charge of $1,000 per book or more?

If it’s left to non-profits, good luck. Do they have a set of uniform standards – and the time and resources – to do this?

In the end, we are left with a muddled, inconsistent approach. We only hear of errors, hoaxes, false data, or misinterpretations of things once a fight goes public in the media or across social media. Every so often a lawsuit gets issued to seek to correct things – or just silence an author.

It will come down to readers, the media, and those in the book industry to step it up and be more probing and suspicious of any information published in a book – or really anywhere for that matter.

I can’t find a single source online that addresses fake book facts. Fake news. Yes, but not fake book content. Every so often we hear of a book hoax, where chunks of a story are complete bullshit, but what do we know about one or two fake stories or falsified facts in every 300-page book? Who is the gatekeeper of truth?

What can be done to address what could already be or may become a horrific publishing milestone?

I would suggest that a study be orchestrated and commissioned – and for those results to be shared, hopefully with recommendations for following up. Who should do this? Perhaps a conglomerate of groups, including publishers, trade associations, libraries, schools, news media, ethicists, authors, lawyers, and anyone interested in protecting our democracy.

We can call it The Commission to Prevent Fake Facts in Books. Are you ready to participate – or will you stick your head in the sand and merely hope that every publisher and author acts ethically, wisely, responsibly , and legally?

Look, we know in every single industry where humans are involved, there will be instances of corruption, crime, abuse, racism, sexism, cronyism, accidental errors, sloppiness, ignorance, and politics. So why should we think the book world is immune to this?  It isn’t.


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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2020. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.




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