Today’s Media: Credible or Manipulative?

From newspapers, radio and TV, media has exploded into a communication phenomenon that has its talons into the life of virtually everyone on this planet from the moment they are born until the day they die – and actually long after that!

While there has always been some kind of media bias, usually to please advertisers, owners, mainstream standards and to exploit sensationalism, the difference today is the sheer volume of media outlets and their global reach.

A single individual, with little money can create a digital (internet) presence that appears as professional as media outlets that in the recent past spent millions of dollars to build.

That same individual (or group) can leverage information (or dis-information) available to research at their fingertips and publish and spread it in a way that appears to be both genuine and authoritative.

A side effect of the sheer volume of information is that readers no longer have the time or inclination to make sure facts are actually supported by evidence, or even to read articles that are too long.

To put the media shift into perspective, the very first online social network was Classmates.com in 1995 – only 16 years ago.

Facebook is only SEVEN years old, Twitter is FIVE and Tumblr only FOUR!

The entire world wide web that we know today is not even 21 years old, although I’m pretty sure anyone younger than 30 would not believe that.

There are literally thousands of social media sites on the internet, with the top sites having millions of users. Facebook is getting close to a BILLION, and Qzone – a Chinese site has almost half a billion users.

Media is a tool like any other tool, and can be used for benevolent or malicious purposes, or to suit the agenda of the people who control it.

Here is a current example. The Occupy Movement is considered by the people who support it to be a grass-roots movement by the 99% to protest the 1% whom they feel control the money and power.

When you think of Occupy Wall Street, you believe that it is 99% of the population against 1%. You have seen charts and studies to support that.

You believe that the idea was a groundswell of the 99% getting mad and starting the movement.  Why? because that is how the media told the story.

From a beginning of support to a now dwindling support in the media, the whole story smacks of media manipulation, yet most people don’t see it.

The story is great for sales when there is confrontation and violence, especially if it is against a senior, a student or a war vet. The media knows that people grow tired quickly of the same old story, so they quickly move on to something new and controversial, so the true message gets quickly lost.

When the Toronto Police peacefully ended the Occupy Toronto protest this week, the media must have been disappointed. There were no cracked heads, no pepper spray, no violence. (My faith in Canadians as peace-makers is restored after the G-20 and Vancouver riots.)

I was interested in how the Occupy movement ACTUALLY started, so I did a little research.

It might surprise you to know that it was NOT a group of U.S. people who rose up with the idea.

It was NOT the 99%.

It WAS in fact the idea of a Canadian Group called Adbusters out of Vancouver B.C.

Directly from their website:

“We are a global network of artists, activists, writers, pranksters, students, educators and entrepreneurs who want to advance the new social activist movement of the information age. Our aim is to topple existing power structures and forge a major shift in the way we live in the 21st century.”

I wonder if 99% of the people would support this if it were not for their well orchestrated and financed media campaign.

This is but one current example of how media can spark a snowball effect, much like a viral video on YouTube.

Today’s media is so saturated and easy to create and publish to the world, that it has become a highly competitive task to have your voice heard above all the noise.

Clearly media that does not set out with a bias or to manipulate has a tough challenge to have that voice heard.

Honest, non-biased and well researched journalism often gets lost in the crowd. How do you tell what is honest and what is not? How do you know the motives of those who control the media?

At what point do we all just stop listening all together?

 

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