Don’t Fall For Media Manipulation

Posted on December 14, 2016 by Lexi Tucker - Also by this author

We live in a time where many have mixed feelings about “the media.” Information is everywhere now that we have Facebook, Twitter, and countless other ways to receive news. “Fake news” is becoming a dangerous epidemic because not enough people know how to discern fact from fiction, including journalists themselves. One day a glass of wine at dinner is good for your heart, and the next it can give you cancer.

I just wrapped up my column for the February issue the other day, and the research I did for it got me thinking about how fickle news outlets can be. The column was written in response to a pair of articles that discussed how a recent survey debunks previous reports about Millennials’ feelings toward buying cars. The articles, “Ride-Sharing Millennials Found To Crave Car Ownership After All” by Bloomberg writer David Welch, and “Actually, We Were All Wrong — Millennials Love Cars” written by Business Insider’s Matthew DeBord, explain previous reports, such as this one from The Washington Post and this one from CNN, aren’t true.

At this point, news changes as frequently as the weather (well, the weather anywhere but California). I can promise you a lot of the “mainstream media” sources out there will write just about anything as long as it will drive traffic to their website. I recently read a fantastic book called “Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions Of A Media Manipulator” by media strategist Ryan Holiday. It explains a process he calls “trading up the chain”— the method by which people like him feed leads to small blogs looking for a metrics boost, then how major media sources who are searching for the next big story feed off of those smaller blogs when they are scouring the internet for “sources.”

Don't let appearances deceive you...just because someone looks like a reporter, it doesn't mean they know how to properly sort through sources.
Don't let appearances deceive you...just because someone looks like a reporter, it doesn't mean they know how to properly sort through sources.
Long story short: Many of today’s journalists, as well as the public they are meant to serve, are manipulated much too easily. They do the exact opposite of what we’re taught in journalism courses (“It’s better to be right than to be first”) and fall for these
tactics every time. I believe Holiday’s book should be required reading for not only journalists, but for the public as well. Any time you read a story about Uber, Lyft, or any other up-and-coming industry disruptors, pause for a second before heading to an industry Facebook group and wildly writing a scathing commentary to go along with it.

Ask yourself: Where did this story come from? What news source wrote it? Where did the sources they interview come from? Better yet, does the story even mention any sources? Does the source have a personal interest in spreading this information? I could go on and on, but there’s more work to be done than just reading the article.

The moral of this blog is don’t get distracted. If the news you are consuming is

coming from a credible source (and I wouldn’t be writing for LCT Magazine if I didn’t think it was credible), read it, absorb it, and allow it to inform your business decisions to a certain extent. But also rely upon yourself. You know you are providing your clients with a valuable service worth the prices you charge. Don’t let reports of “Millennials Loveeeeeee TNCs” stop you from trying to pursue them as customers.

Because for all we know, two months from now the headline will read “Millennials Willing To Ditch TNCs For Luxury SUVs.”

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