Wagging the dog

Winston S. Churchill is attributed with the line that "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on," but it's clearly an idea that is still relevant.

Last week a North American friend commented on Facebook about a search topic that seemed to be trending, the question whether "Obama is planning a coup".

When I read about this on Sunday night it occurred to me that it would probably be a couple of days before the Australian media picked up on the story.

Then on Tuesday morning I heard it discussed on ABC's Radio National, later finding this story online.

While there is no suggestion that former US President Obama is planning a coup, it's fascinating that it's widely a topic for discussion.

And that the Australian media is picking up on the discussion suggests to me 'the tail is wagging the dog,' because this kind of news story is a reaction to unofficial sources.

In the days before the number of PR professionals overtook the number of journalists, one would expect that a news story would contain researched opinions.

These days it seems like media organisations are trying to outpace more nimble and less newsy websites in pursuit of clickbait headlines to drive page views.