Last week, I went to a Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) luncheon. The panelists at the luncheon answered questions about fake news and what it means for the profession. It got me thinking about the implication of fake news on pit bulls.
Fake news isn’t anything new. At its core, it isn’t even entirely fake. These articles are based in some level of truth, but it is usually twisted to line up with the writer’s beliefs. It is based in sensational headlines and stories made to seem worse than they actually are. Fake news goes back to the 19th century with yellow journalism. It was the same sensationalized and exaggerated stories.
The point here is, there are some journalists out there that have taken the pit bull paranoia and used it to boost their ratings. I would just like to throw out there, not all journalists are bad. As a whole, the profession is based in a strong code of ethics, but, as with any line of work, there are some out there that have made the rest look bad.
The question comes down to how do we, as pit bull owners and lovers, combat this issue? It really is simple. Don’t click on the sensational headlines. Clicks equal viewers, which equals income for these journalists. Journalism has had a hard go of it in the digital age, and it can be hard to keep viewership. If we continue to click on these headlines that make pit bulls out to be demons, we are just telling editors that is the information we are looking for.
Yes, there are stories out there that we don’t want to read. It is unfortunate, but there are some bad dogs and dog owners out there. However, the stories that perpetuate the myth and cause hysteria are not worth our time or energy. Ignore those stories. Even if you want to set people straight on the facts. Continue to share the facts in your own way. Write a blog. Talk with your friends and family. Talk with strangers everywhere you go. If there is a negative story about a pit bull, remind people that it was just one dog. Remind people of all the wonderful pit bulls out there that do nothing but love their families.