As a journalist of more than 35 years, I hate the term "fake news." I know how hard my colleagues and I work to put out coverage that cuts to the chase in an objective way.
Of course, there can be an alternate interpretation of the term. A year or so back, a former classmate of mine—while we were arguing baseball on Facebook— quipped that I should just go back to putting "fake news" in my publication.
More than half-jokingly I told him only the positive stories were fake. I hate to say it now, but that conversation came to mind as I conducted interviews for a "Rapid Responders" special report that focused on all the good work done in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was the ventilator project between General Motors and Ventec that brought the conversation with my friend to mind. It was one of the "feel good" stories of the year, with the two firms building a version of a Ventec ventilator that is said to be more versatile and mobile than standard medical ventilators.
Some of the suppliers that worked on the project, however, said privately that things weren't necessarily as rosy as they were made to seem to the public. They said GM could be difficult to work with, and volumes weren't near what the auto maker had projected. Even worse, there were times where rather than listen to the advice of others and use molds and tooling that already were in place, they instead looked to "re-invent the wheel" and have all new molds designed. This added cost and time to the effort.
Don't get me wrong, the ventilator project was needed and worthwhile. It's just that sometimes having a bit of inside knowledge takes a bit of the shine away.