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The Perils of "Fake News"

SPECIAL ISSUE May 27, 2019


Memorial day here in the U.S. is in full swing. For those of you who don't know what this holiday is all about, it's not simply a holiday from work and an excuse to fire up the grill and sip some brewskis. It's about honoring our servicemen and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice to safeguard our precious freedoms. Eight years ago my husband and I took our son and daughter to visit Arlington National Cemetery for the first time on Memorial day. At one point after we'd been walking through the acres and acres of headstones marking the graves of these brave men and women, I looked over and saw my kids spontaneously doing this...

One of the reasons we had visited Arlington National Cemetery that day was to see the Battleship Maine memorial. And that leads me to the subject line of today's email. You see, my great-grandfather was the officer on deck on the Battleship Maine when it exploded in Havana harbor. Despite suffering head injuries, he rushed to save as many of his men as possible, and still saw more than 200 of them lose their lives. There's a whole lot more to the story here, but all along my great-grandfather believed the explosion was caused by munitions on board the ship. However, there was a constant drumbeat of "yellow journalism" pushing the country towards war, because it would be good for the newspaper business. My great-grandfather died six months later as a result of his injuries, and his name is now listed at the top of the Battleship Maine memorial along with the rest of his men. Sadly, the U.S. ended up going to war with Spain over this incident...and hundreds more soldiers lost their lives as a result. But more than sixty years later, my great-grandfather was proven correct. It had been an explosion of munitions on board the ship that caused the Battleship Maine to blow up and take so many lives. Meanwhile, the Hearst publishing empire and others grew richer on the backs of the countless servicemen who went to war and lost their lives. This is one reason why it makes my blood boil to hear people flippantly use the term "fake news". It's serious stuff. Over the years, "yellow journalism" has caused needless wars and taken people from their families. And it's only gotten worse. Today we suffer from "tribal journalism" on both sides, where vast amounts of propaganda are constantly dished out with a side of bitter divisiveness. We're barraged with "entertainment journalism", where stories are cherry-picked and highlighted based on their titillation power versus providing a balanced view of the world's events. And we're commanded by people in positions of power not to believe anything we're told in the media. That's it's all "fake news". I can't tell you how dangerous I feel this is. As history proves, discrediting the media is the realm of dictators and tyrants. And it's simply not true. There are still many journalists today who DO follow journalistic standards of fact-checking and ethics. They risk their lives reporting on the front lines in highly dangerous situations...and risk personal persecution to bring stories to bear which those in power would prefer to never see the light of day. The role of a free press is essential to a free society. Don't ever forget that. It's part of what our ancestors and loved ones sacrificed their lives for. What does this have to do with copywriting? Probably nothing. But it's a story I wanted to share today. And despite experts like my friend and colleague Justin Goff writing about how Memorial day is a great day to offer a sale to your list, I'm not doing that. It just doesn't feel right. However, I will be adding an extra special offer to my Copywriting Velocity complete virtual program and upcoming live group calls over the next several days, so you'll want to stay tuned (and be ready for more emails). I also plan to play "catch up" with some "What's in Kim's Mailbox", too (I've been traveling the past 2 weeks and had several gems arrive while I was away.) In the meantime, enjoy this special holiday and honor those who've preserved our precious freedoms in a country that's already great and has always been that way...

Yours for smarter marketing, Kim

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© 2018 Kim Krause Schwalm