Franchises should strive to understand the difference between facts and fake news, while reinforcing the separation between editorial and advertising to help preserve the free press.

Author:Lecza, Amy
Position:Maintaining the Divide Separating Fact & Fake - Editorial

In a highly politicized world, it's undeniable the myriad ways that news publications, whether digital or print, influence the world around us. FreedomHouse is an independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom and democracy around the world that has been steadily reporting on the state of the free press in America for the past 39 years. The organization reports that while global press freedom has declined to its lowest levels in 13 years, mainly thanks to new threats to journalists and media outlets in major democracies, the United States press is also in a decline. With terms like "fake news" floating around, and the ideologies that follow, it's easy to see how this could happen.

This decline of the free press, as it stands today, has polarized American society in ways we've never seen before. Proof can be found by visiting CNN and Fox News' websites and looking at the headlines. It seems as if there are two different Americas--and depending on which site you get your news from, you may be receiving completely different information about the news of the day than your friends, family and colleagues.


It is also becoming increasingly obvious that slanted news sources are impacting more than just headlines. Our day-to-day work as franchisors and franchisees may also be affected--the way that a paper, network or website leans may impact how readers are presented business news, meaning that prospective and current franchisees may not be presented a clear picture of what they may or have already invested in.

Any degradation of the free press will have serious ramifications for business owners, especially franchisors who rely on third-party validation to assist in the franchise due diligence process for prospects, as well as franchisors whose public image as a company may be in the news and directly impacting day-to-day life for franchisees.

As a franchisor, you may have already experienced the pains of trying to secure press--within your organization or through a public relations agency--in our highly politicized climate. News organizations, struggling to stay relevant in 2018, are pushing companies such as franchises to invest in paid editorial media, sometimes referred to as "pay to play." This, in and of itself, is almost antithetical to the idea of free press--the concept that if you can pay for space, you can say whatever you want. And while this idea--advertising, basically--isn't unethical,...

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