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The post-truth society: how we got here; where is "here", exactly, and what on earth can we do about it?

We are living in the era of “post-truth”. People in this country have had enough of experts, apparently. Instead, we are offered alternative facts, fake news, social media echo chambers, dodgy statistics and outright lies. With a tsunami of information coming at us from every direction, citizen journalism, e-petitions and blogs, we are more politically engaged than ever; but when politicians and the media tell us their truth, we just don’t buy it any more.

How did it come to this? To the chattering classes, recent political events have come as a shock, while the voters wonder: why haven’t they been listening? Politicians and journalists live, work and play together in an insulated London bubble. They went to the same schools. They share the same top jobs. They’re completely out of touch with how the other half lives.

Meanwhile, the internet helps a lie to get halfway around the world while the truth is still putting its boots on. Investigative reporting is in the doldrums, while fake news is spread for free online. But if we are all journalists now, what responsibility do we have to check sources, to educate ourselves, and to pay for news? How do we stay reliably informed in a world where truth is supposedly a thing of the past?

In Not Buying It, Charlotte Henry looks at the facts behind fake news, talking to the major players in politics and media, old and new. She also talks to voters and thinkers from outside the media bubble, to provide context, explanation, and, crucially, solutions. “Post-truth” was the Oxford Dictionary’s word of 2016. This year, let’s start getting the truth back.

Charlotte Henry is a journalist, broadcaster and communications professional.  She has worked both freelance and on the staff for a variety of major publications. These include City AM, the Spectator, the Independent on Sunday, CapX, Computer Business Review, and the MacObserver
At all these publications, she has worked to highlight and explain the collision between technology, politics and the media. 
Charlotte has appeared as a pundit on broadcast media, discussing key breaking stories on Sky News, BBC News and a range of regional and national radio stations, as well as doing newspaper reviews.
She has also worked on a variety of political campaigns, advising on digital communication. Charlotte has twice been a candidate herself, running unsuccessfully for the London Assembly and as a local councillor for the Liberal Democrats. Prior to that she held senior roles in the party's youth wing.
Charlotte grew up in north London, where she still lives. In her spare time she is a long suffering fan of Tottenham Hotspur, and a lover of rock, dance, and heavy metal music. She is also battling an addiction to crime novels. This is Charlotte’s first book. 

It was January 22nd 2017, when lies officially became alternative facts. Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser to the newly inaugurated President Trump, took to the airwaves. Speaking on the major Sunday morning programme Meet the Press, Conway defended Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s assertion that Trump had drawn “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in-person and around the globe”. This was despite large amounts of photographic and other evidence to the contrary.

As has become customary in our hyper-networked age, the clip spread around the globe almost instantly. The phrase stuck.  It stuck not just because what Conway saying was clearly ridiculous, but also because the phrase perfectly summed up the era in which we are living.

This is an age in which expertise is seen as elitist and not to be trusted. In one of the lowest points of the UK’s 2016 EU referendum, the Leave campaigner Michael Gove, a hyper-intelligent bookworm, declared that “the British people have had enough of experts…”

It is an age in which the truth is up for grabs, and facts are no longer sacred.

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