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While the truth is still putting on its shoes

The inimitable Eddie Coates-Madden (Head of Communications at Sheffield City Council and National Secretary for LGcommunications) will run a free workshop for public sector communicators at the Leeds Digital Engagement Day on 19 June. Eddie will discuss responding to misinformation in a social, digital world. Book your place to learn from Eddie and nine other comms superstars. 


Mark Twain is credited with articulating the idea that “a lie can travel half way around the globe while the truth is putting on its shoes”. The website says a “version of the adage was attributed to him” in 1919.

But – as they also say – Mark Twain died in 1910. So Mark Twain (according to Wikipedia) was dead only fourteen years after the founding of the Daily Mail; fifty-four years before the first publication of The Sun and exactly ninety-five years and eleven months before Jack Dorsey typed the words “just setting up my twittr”.

So, if we can’t even be sure of the truth of who said “while the truth is getting its shoes on”, how can we know the truth of any of it? How can we hope to meet the challenges of a world in which – by comparison with the media landscape of 1919 – a lie can travel at the speed of light, while the truth is still looking in the back of the wardrobe for its socks? How can we even try to make sure our truths are heard? And how can we challenge the misinformation that sometimes clouds a wide range of issues?


Alex Aiken, Executive Director for the Government Communications Service (GCS) recently outlined that the real test for government communications is being nimble enough to respond to the many challenges thrown at it while remaining a reliable source of information. A rapid and robust response to disinformation is paramount, and Alex has set out eight core challenges for the GCS, which could apply to the whole profession.

Eddie’s workshop promises collaboration and practical tips for responding to fake news: register here