We are the best. Pe­riod.

You can say that again

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - PAUL BER­TON Paul Ber­ton is ed­i­tor-in-chief of The Hamilton Spectator and thes­pec.com. You can reach him at 905-526-3482 or pber­ton@thes­pec.com

The Hamilton Spectator is the best news­pa­per in the world. Pe­riod.

This is not just my opin­ion; it is fact. I know it be­cause many read­ers tell me reg­u­larly. They read ev­ery word of The Spectator and only The Spectator and they love it. Per­haps you are one of them.

Or per­haps it has just oc­curred to you now: “You’re right, I’d never thought of it, but The Spectator is the great­est news­pa­per in the world.”

There will be those among you, of course, who say “you’ve got to be kid­ding. The Wall Street Jour­nal is the best news­pa­per. Or the Toronto Star.”

Or the New York Times or the Guardian or El Pais or the Times of In­dia or the Jerusalem Post or the Na­tional En­quirer.

Per­haps th­ese peo­ple sim­ply need to be re­minded more of­ten that The Hamilton Spectator is. the. Best. News­pa­per. EVER. We have the best news, the top news. Be­lieve me.

Gen­er­ally, we let peo­ple make their own minds up about this, but maybe we should de­clare it ev­ery day on the front page: “the great­est news­pa­per in the world” in­stead of “con­nected to your com­mu­nity.”

If his­tory is any in­di­ca­tion, the more we tell peo­ple things, the more they will be­lieve it. This has been true through­out hu­man his­tory, but it some­how seems to be get­ting worse (or bet­ter).

Af­ter all, how is it that a restau­rant can ad­ver­tise “the best burg­ers in town” when they are clearly not. Their buns are stale, their meat is frozen, and there are no pick­les.

It’s called mar­ket­ing, and mar­ket­ing works.

Mar­ket­ing trans­formed di­a­monds from use­less rocks into valu­able jew­elry. Mar­ket­ing makes peo­ple pay sev­eral thou­sand dol­lars for a de­signer purse when you can get one at your lo­cal de­part­ment store for a few hun­dred.

If you say some­thing sim­ple and re­peat it enough, peo­ple will be­lieve you, re­gard­less of ac­tual fact.

Not only will they be­lieve you, they’ll also re­peat it, and peo­ple will be­lieve them. And the next thing you know, ev­ery­one thinks Coke is bet­ter than Pepsi, or vice versa.

It works even bet­ter in pol­i­tics. Let’s say you are a politi­cian, and make the pre­pos­ter­ous as­ser­tion that you got more votes than any­one any­where ever, and that your crowds are the big­gest in world his­tory, and that you are smart.

Even if such claims are patently, prov­ably, demon­stra­bly and ob­vi­ously false, all you have to do is keep re­peat­ing them, just like say­ing you serve the “best ham­burg­ers in town.”

The only real prob­lem is the me­dia. Jour­nal­ists may ask you for proof, they may ask trou­ble­some ques­tions, and they may have some ac­tual facts to counter your claims.

But if you are a shrewd politi­cian, you sim­ply at­tack the jour­nal­ists, over and over again, and in­sist they are ly­ing liars who lie, and that you are smart and got the most votes.

Some dis­ci­plined con­sumers of news may see you for what you are, but many oth­ers ap­par­ently, will some­how sim­ply re­mem­ber what you keep re­peat­ing: you are smart and rich and jour­nal­ists are liars.

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