NEW YORK: The Arthur W. Page Society renewed its commitment to truth and the free press in a statement issued Friday.
"Truth is not dead, as some may fear," the statement reads. "It remains, as ever, the foundation of credibility and the lifeblood of trust. On behalf of the members of the Page Society, we reaffirm our deep commitment to ensuring truth in the practice of public communication."
The statement was approved by the board of trustees, which is made up of 36 members led by chairman Dave Samson, in response to "recent statements, assertions, and actions regarding the practice of public communications."
The proliferation of fake news has become a top-of-mind issue for many PR pros, so much so that Weber Shandwick hosted a roundtable to parse the issue and brainstorm a diagnosis. Industry experts, as well as representatives from media, marketing, tech platforms, research, and trade organizations attended the off-record event, a spokesperson said.
"Distorting information, withholding the truth, or promulgating falsehoods violates the public’s trust and denies its rightful opportunity to be engaged and informed," the society said through its statement. "This is precisely why democratic societies require a free and fair press. In this respect, our profession is intertwined with journalism."
Time magazine recently took on the topic, as well.
The organization presented a "fearless fight for the truth" in the statement, but former Page Society member Alan Kelly questioned the moral posturing in a blog criticizing the PR industry’s stance on the issue, saying its practices paved the way for fake news.
Kelly was a member of the Page Society for 10 years starting in 2003. He resigned in the summer of 2013 because there was "too much window dressing."
"PR is not noble, but it’s necessary, he said via a message on Twitter. "Page and most educators are more keen to beautify a function than be honest about it. A bit like putting religious teachings before sex education."