On Tuesday, June 6, 2023, Logos President Helio Fred Garcia delivered a keynote address on “The Dangers of Disinformation: How Professional Communicators can Preserve and Promote Civic Order” at the 2023 International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) World Conference in Toronto, Canada.
The IABC is a global association that serves professionals in the field of business communication, bringing together the profession’s collective disciplines. The 2023 IABC World Conference brought together more than 950 communication professionals from 34 countries for four days of collective learning, professional development, and networking.
Garcia’s keynote address focused on the challenges professional communicators face in an environment of increasing mistrust and political turmoil.
“The profession of professional communicators is at a turning point,” he explained. “The stakes have never been higher. We will define whether professional communicators remain respected or become a discredited profession. Whether our employers and clients will remain respected or discredited.”
Garcia examined the ways in which disinformation and misinformation can – and have – put human life and democracy at risk. He then outlined a disinformation playbook that, once known, can be used to stop the spread of disinformation.
“Once disinformation takes root it is very difficult to neutralize its negative effects. But…confronting disinformation early can keep it from taking root,” Garcia shared. “Now that you know what to look for, you can begin to recognize it in smaller situations everywhere in the world, especially before disinformation has taken root.”
Garcia ended his remarks with a call to action to professional communicators: to resist becoming misinformation mercenaries and to help their clients and employers communicate honestly and in ways that build trust, rather than erode trust. He also called on professional communication organizations to recommit to the core value of truth and accuracy and to equip members of those organizations to become disinformation detectors. He further called on institutions of higher education, specifically for schools or departments that specialize in some form of communication, to embed the power of truth and accuracy into their curricula and equip their students to be effective disinformation detectors. And he called on media companies to not engage in disinformation or misinformation, to create structures to detect disinformation effectively, and to prevent those who spread disinformation or misinformation from using their platforms.
“Communication has power. Communicators have power. You have this power,” he concluded. “And with power comes responsibility. How will you exercise your power, your responsibility? This may be the most important question you face in your career. Please choose wisely.”