The Power of Truth in an Age of Disinformation: What CEOs Need to Know

Diana Swain, multi-award-winning journalist and senior investigative correspondent for CBC News and host of The Investigators on CBC News Network joined Paul McCullough, Interim President and Chief Executive Officer of BCIT for a fireside chat on the Power of Truth, hosted by Nancy MacKay, Founder and CEO of MacKay CEO Forums.

Paul McCullough kicked off the chat by sharing a recent study covered by BBC that revealed that globally, our appetite for news is waning, along with some concerning trends. It appears that over the past six years, people’s interest in staying informed has dropped by about 25%. According to Oxford University’s Reuters Institute, only 48% of individuals worldwide are genuinely interested in the news, a significant decrease from 63% in 2017. In fact, over a third of people (36%) admit to actively avoiding the news at times.

Opinion over Truth

So, how did we end up here? Diana Swain suggests that as a society, we have grown complacent, taking the veracity of our news for granted. Gone are the days when news was delivered to our doorstep twice a day filled with stories written by journalists who fact-checked their sources. Instead, opinion-based content have taken centre stage, resulting in a flood of unverified information.

Authenticity is a Value

This is precisely why the concepts of truth and authenticity have never been more vital, and CEOs play a pivotal role in this evolving landscape.

According to the 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer, there is a clear expectation for CEOs to combat misinformation. A resounding 72% believe that CEOs have an obligation to hold divisive forces accountable, expose questionable science used to justify harmful social policies, and even withdraw advertising support from media platforms that propagate misinformation. Within their own companies, CEOs enjoy a high level of trust from employees (64%) who witness their actions daily and see how they show up.  

The bottom-line advice to CEOs from an investigative journalist? Embrace authenticity as a value. We all want to connect with what’s true and what’s real and it’s never been more important for individuals and businesses alike.