The way news is created has changed dramatically in the internet age. The old production and curation techniques of broadcast news have cratered, leaving this huge opening for salacious sites, fake news and suspect bloggers.
The modern currency for news is now ATTENTION. Any story, clip or meme that floats through cyberspace has only a couple of imperatives: Will it get attention? Will it spread?
It doesn’t matter if the content is not entertaining, informative or otherwise valuable.
Media Collusion covers the history of these developments in more detail.
Ryan Holiday’s book Trust Me, I’m Lying also does a great job deconstructing how it all works.
Here are six tips from that book, showing students of the media how to deal with the constant noise coming from blogs, clips, news reports and shared media across all manner of sites and apps:
- When you see “We’re hearing reports” know that reports could mean anything from random mentions on Twitter to message board posts, or worse.
- When you see “leaked” or “official documents” know that the leak really meant someone just e-mailed a blogger, and that the documents are almost certainly not official and are usually fake or fabricated for the purpose of making desired information public.
- When you see “ BREAKING” or “We’ll have more details as the story develops” know that what you’re reading reached you too soon. There was no wait and see, no attempt at confirmation, no internal debate over whether the importance of the story necessitated abandoning caution. The protocol is going to press early, publishing before the basics facts are confirmed, and not caring whether it causes problems for people.
- When you see “Updated” on a story or article know that no one actually bothered to rework the story in light of the new facts—they just copied and pasted some shit at the bottom of the article.
- When you see “Sources tell us …” know that these sources are not vetted, they are rarely corroborated, and they are desperate for attention.
- When you see a story tagged with “EXCLUSIVE” know that it means the blog and the source worked out an arrangement that included favorable coverage. Know that in many cases the source gave this exclusive to multiple sites at the same time or that the site is just taking ownership of a story they stole from a lesser-known site.
SOURCE: Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator by Ryan Holiday