Good Essay On Media Manipulating The Masses
Not a day goes by where people are not inundated with various types of media. We watch television, use Facebook, listen to the radio, surf the web, and read. When anything happens that might garner attention, it begins showing up trending on Facebook and gets the headline on the six o’clock news. Media outlets have their own specific goals in what they report and when. With so much information to process, people have begun to stop critically evaluating what the media shows. The media purposefully uses its platform to perpetuate their own biases and ideals.
An average American watches over 4 hours of television everyday ("Television & Health." n.p.). That is 28 hours per week, or a solid two months a year, where people are inundated by television media ("Television & Health." n.p.). An article came out in 2013 estimating that by 2015 people would be taking in 15.5 hours of media per day (Zverina n.p.). That is the data equivalent of 9 DVD’s every single day (Zverina n.p.). With so much data being processed by people each day, it is inevitable that people are going to spend less time verifying accuracy, and more easily believe what they see on television or read on the internet or in the newspaper. Given this trend, media outlets have begun to stretch truths, or disseminate information without verifying accuracy. There are even satirical news sites that many believe are real until it is pointed out otherwise to them.
One example of a satirical news site many take seriously is The Onion. When one visits the site it is set up just like any real news outlet, such as CNN. There are headlines that are relevant to current events, and very well written believable articles. Many of The Onion’s articles have gone viral, and been shared as real news on social media sites. While this is an extreme example of lying media, and the masses believing it, it is a startling example.
A real example of false news being leaked happened in 2004. Piers Morgan wrote an article, including pictures, accusing the British government of torture similar to that of Abu Ghraib ("Editor Sacked over 'hoax' Photos." n.p.). The world was in an uproar. People were in shock that the British government could condone such actions, especially on the toes of the Abu Ghraib scandal. The British government was intent on proving its innocence, and thanks to their diligence we know now that the whole story was a lie. The picture were found to be fake, and Piers Morgan subsequently lost his job.
Social media makes spreading information much easier. One might upload a simple video, and have it be viral within hours. Much misinformation had been spread this way. For example, when the Ebola scare happened:
For even the most skilled Twitter maven, providing accurate information on Ebola in 140 characters or less is a challenge. Social media is sometimes a challenging place to deal with complex subjects, but it's a way to reach millions of people, so public health officials and medical experts are using Twitter and Facebook to try to educate and inform. But other users take to the same outlets to share half-truths and rumors, perpetuating a number of irrational fears about Ebola. Misinformation can spread much faster across the U.S. than the virus ever could (Firger n.p.).
People were in a panic mostly over lies and misinformation spread through social media. People did not check their facts, so the misinformation was just shared over and over.
Another issue with media is who controls it. Although information may have bits of truth, if someone is profiting off of that truth it is suspect. For example:
During the public debate around the question of whether to attack Syria, Stephen Hadley, former national security adviser to George W. Bush, made a series of high-profile media appearances. Hadley argued strenuously for military intervention in appearances on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and Bloomberg TV, and authored a Washington Post op-ed headlined “To stop Iran, Obama must enforce red lines with Assad.” In each case, Hadley’s audience was not informed that he serves as a director of Raytheon, the weapons manufacturer that makes the Tomahawk cruise missiles that were widely cited as a weapon of choice in a potential strike against Syria. Hadley earns $128,500 in annual cash compensation from the company and chairs its public affairs committee. He also owns 11,477 shares of Raytheon stock, which traded at all-time highs during the Syria debate ($77.65 on August 23, making Hadley’s share’s worth $891,189). Despite this financial stake, Hadley was presented to his audience as an experienced, independent national security expert ("Truth, War Propaganda, CIA and Media Manipulation.").
When media outlets choose to use experts who have a financial stake in the activities which they are reporting on, those activities must be suspect. Unfortunately, most of us simply accept that a person is legitimate if our favorite news anchor tells us so.
Even videos of the news cannot be trusted. CNN played footage where Anderson Cooper looks as if he is in harm’s way in Syria, talking to a Syrian correspondent ("Is Everything in the Mainstream Media Fake? - 6 Examples of Media Manipulation - Waking Times." N.p.). On closer inspection of the film, Cooper was not in harm’s way at all ("Is Everything in the Mainstream Media Fake? - 6 Examples of Media Manipulation - Waking Times." N.p.). Cooper was videotaped, and then the other layers were added in to make it seem like he was in Sryia. Also, it is obvious news stations are often told verbatim what to say. This is why “the comedian and talk show host Conan O’Brien has done a service for America by compiling overtly ridiculous cases of local ‘news’ broadcasts that were simultaneously repeated verbatim in dozens of markets nationwide. This is proof that you simply cannot trust the authenticity of what you are seeing on news broadcasts.” ("Is Everything in the Mainstream Media Fake? - 6 Examples of Media Manipulation - Waking Times." N.p.). Newspapers are guilty of photoshopping images to make them more dramatic, instead of just letting the truth shine ("Is Everything in the Mainstream Media Fake? - 6 Examples of Media Manipulation - Waking Times." N.p.).
Logically speaking, one would think that more media available to a consumer would mean more accurate information ("Is Everything in the Mainstream Media Fake? - 6 Examples of Media Manipulation - Waking Times." N.p.). While it is true that we as people want to know current events, we are also too lazy to check facts before sharing them with the world. We have seen the media lie, make up picures, use questionable resources, and try to create a panic. During all of this, we have been like sheep and listened to what we have been told by the media. It is time we stop, and begun to question the media. It is only with societal change that the media will stop lying to us. It is only if we start doing our own research that the media will stop perpetuating lies and half-truths to further its own agenda.
"Editor Sacked over 'hoax' Photos." BBC News. BBC, 14 May 2004. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.
Firger, Jessica. "Social Media and Twitter Promotes Ebola Outbreak Fears, Conspiracies." CBSNews. CBS Interactive, 3 Oct. 2014. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.
"Is Everything in the Mainstream Media Fake? - 6 Examples of Media Manipulation - Waking Times." Waking Times. N.p., 27 Feb. 2014. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.
"Television & Health." CSUN. California State University, n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.
"Truth, War Propaganda, CIA and Media Manipulation." Global Research. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.
Zverina, Jan. "UC San Diego News Center." UC San Diego. UC San Diego, 06 Nov. 2013. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.
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