“Post-truth” had already been crowned Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year by the time “fake news” gathered steam in December.  In Internet-driven, connected societies, terminology travels seemingly as quickly as viral memes and flash-in-the-pan celebrities.  Yet “post-truth” and “fake news” are two sides of the same coin: one tends to expose the passive rejection of the expert presenting a fact.  The other tends to illuminate the proactive tinkering with facts to produce entirely falsified material.  Yet at the core, they are both part of a wider-spread phenomenon which invites mistrust and misinformation to have a seat at the table and overstay their welcome.

In the wake of the fake news phenomenon, public and private sector leaders alike have decided to do something.  Or, at least, they must appear to be doing something.  Committees are formed, focus groups are assembled, consultants are hired, and studies are commissioned as to how to tackle fake news and reign in post-truth societies. The most straightforward start, however, for our leaders doesn’t need a sub-committee working group to present a chart-filled report.

The vast majority of leaders have, quite simply, been slow to wake up to the Primary Source Revolution which has been steadily brewing online for a good number of years.  Leaders today have daily access to the people who judge them – whether by voting, purchasing, publishing, or editorializing – in unprecedented volume.  As reflections, analysis, ideas, facts, and figures are presented to them, leaders at every level of politics and business can turn directly to their social media platform of choice to have a frank conversation with people about their latest thinking.  What is influencing their decisions?  How are they arriving at their conclusions?  Why does it matter?

As commentary about fake news swirls on the connected web, the best possible action our leaders can take is to get online themselves and amp up – with urgency – their honest, direct, clear assessment of the decisions they make and the points of view they hold.

Growing up as a student in Sacramento, California’s publicly-funded school system, as early as seventh grade our history teachers ingrained in us the value of the primary source in opinion forming and decision making.  While secondary sources provide layers of additional analysis and thought provocation, we were encouraged to draw our own conclusions from a wide variety of primary source material: a president’s diary, a journalist’s notes, an artist’s sketch.  Primary sources, we were taught, are powerful.

In today’s so-called post-truth environment, primary sources are more powerful than ever.  But as people clamor for primary sources, our leaders are failing to step up to the plate.  This is especially alarming given that the primary source in real-time is more readily available than in any period in history.  Curious about what a White House spokesperson actually said, as opposed to a journalists’ take on the briefing?  Hop online and check it out.  Wondering whether a short interview with a politician actually captures her thinking on the topic at hand?  Follow the politician’s social media account and read what she has to say about the interview.  Speculating as to whether a journalist had more personal reactions to share about a prime-time documentary?  Whip out your phone and find the behind-the-scenes outtakes.

The problem, of course, is that so few of our leaders actually leverage the Primary Source Revolution in a meaningful way.  Their status updates on Facebook and Twitter will air on the side of half-heartedly re-posting news in which they feature, or showcasing a “handshake photo” which is hardly helpful for people to actually understand what is going on in the world around them.

Indeed, during my eight-year tenure at Facebook during which I trained hundreds of politicians and government officials in more than forty countries on best practices for using Facebook to connect to citizens, every single leader was surprised that long-form content – that is to say, a status update which takes its time to unfold a real, meaningful reflection, update, or anecdote – actually outperforms trite updates which in essence deliver very little primary source information.  In order to have maximum impact, primary sources need to actually have a point of view.

And so the best possible antidote to fake news is for our leaders, our experts, our decision-makers and opinion formers to speak directly to people themselves, in their own words.  Donald Trump has proved that the Primary Source Revolution is well under way, but unless more leaders engage with citizens in an equally direct but more conversational, thoughtful, and analytical way, the Primary Source Revolution will remain stuck in the din of the barricades and completely fail to have a long-term, meaningful impact on the way that our leaders define their own truths, present them to the public, and foster analytical debate which is neither post-truth nor fake, but rather informed and well-researched, in the spirit of societies which encourage the independent yet reasoned exchange of ideas.

Elizabeth Linder is the Founder & CEO of The Conversational Century.  A California native, she is based in London.