Media priorities driven by conflict and ratings (“clicks”)

In media, propaganda and advertising it’s all about “emotional jolts per minute”. The media provides “celebrity-like” coverage of political personalities but seldom does serious policy reporting. This problem is pervasive in political coverage but even rears up in coverage of health, science, business and technology.

Personalities, and especially those that generate “emotional jolts per minute”, are the focus of reporting – not serious analysis or policy understanding.

●Do news sites give serious, sustained attention to policy issues as well as publishing innumerable hot takes about the personality-driven dust-up of the moment?

Harvard professor Thomas E. Patterson, the study’s author, sees trouble on that last point.

The press is focusing on personality not substance,” he said recently on public radio’s “On the Media” program. And that reflects “not a partisan bias but a journalistic bias,” the tendency to seek out conflict. (No mystery there — it’s more interesting.)

“It’s the press in its usual mode, and that erodes public trust,” Patterson said.

And then there’s the dirty little secret that every journalist knows — Trump stories drive ratings and clicks. The word “Trump” in a headline vastly increases its chances of getting attention. (We’re all guilty; see above.)

WashingtonPost: Is Media coverage of Trump to negative?

Since so much of “news” is personality-driven trivia of “he said, she said” and faux outrage quotable quotes, we seldom develop an understanding of the policy or root subject.

Worse, many believe they have knowledge of a subject because it was reported by a well known media outlet. In reality, most of what we think we know – from the media – is likely superficial at best or incomplete and wrong at worst.

Within this celebrity gossip reporting milieu propaganda messaging and spin thrive.

Weaponizing Twitter and other social media for political propaganda

A GOP donor who once had ties to IBM is the man behind the millions of Twitter bots President Trump counts on as followers who could be employed to target voters with misleading or fake news on social media.

Using “bots” to target social media users with propaganda is presented in the story as a possibility. But its already a reality.

“You have arbitrary and ridiculous information spread very quickly, and now to targeted user more susceptible to believing it and spreading it, and we now know that it influences people. We saw it in the election, with Brexit,” he said.

and gosh, sounds like propaganda:

“uses secret psychological methods to pinpoint which messages are the most persuasive to individual online viewers”

Media bias / fact check “media bias resource” web site

QUESTIONABLE SOURCE A questionable source exhibits any of the following: extreme bias, overt propaganda, poor or no sourcing to credible information and/or is fake news.

Source: Media Bias/Fact Checking

Ran across this web site inadvertently. You can look up a very large number of publishers, news services, social media fake news websites and more, and see where they score in their bias.

Using Questionable Statistics to Drive Up Wedding Costs?

What is the claimed average cost of a wedding in the U.S.?

$35,329 in 2016, says “The Knot” (not including costs of a honeymoon trip). More on their press release.

This value is *widely* distributed in the media, on social media, and in online forums.

Other estimates come from Conde Nast Bridal Infobank and The Fairchild Bridal Group.

How can an average wedding cost $35,329 when 62% of American have less than $1,000 in their savings account and only 10-20% have more than $1,000 in savings? (Perhaps this is because they spent it all on weddings and are now complaining they have no money?)

In my state, about 1 in 4 children live in poverty. More than 1 in 4 citizens qualify for Medicaid, which has extremely low income levels for qualifying.

The only way these numbers can all be true is a small number of people spend a huge amount on weddings or a large number live in poverty because they spend a lot on elective luxuries like high end weddings. Or the wedding estimates are bogus.

Propaganda Benefit

This survey is likely designed to produce a high dollar figure for the purpose of “anchoring” brides and grooms into an expectation of how much they should spend: The wedding industry wants you to believe you must spend a small fortune on your “special day”.

By anchoring this value, this “grounds” brides (especially) into how much is appropriate. But this is propaganda designed to set your expectations as to how much you should spend! Once this value is in mind, one’s costs will soon grow to fit with in this “budget”!

Undoubtedly there will soon be a Federal program to provide loans and direct subsidies to needy couples!

Fake headlines equal fake news

Actual Headlines:

Those are actual headlines for the same event.

Which headline packs the emotional hook that gets people sharing a story on social media about a dumb woman distracted by a cell phone?

The first is from the Washington Post and is a fake news headline. This is the version of the story widely shared on social media. The others are from local news and TV news outlets.

From CBS:

The woman’s son said there is a lot more to the story than just another person distracted by a cellphone. He said his mother is legally blind and diabetic.

“She regularly takes on schedule her meals and checks her sugar. As far as I was told, when she was walking down the street, she felt a little nauseous in a sense, and looked at her phone to see what time it was,” the woman’s son said.

….The woman’s son said she has trouble seeing blended colors, and wishes workers had put up some type of indicator or cones to alert people to be careful.

Which headline was distributed nationally?

Variations of the Washington Post fake news story.

Which headline fits a popular urban meme that cellular phone usage will kill us all?

That of the Washington Post. Indeed, WaPo’s fake news story goes in depth in to the distraction of cellular phone usage, with only a single sentence noting her son says she is legally blind and diabetic.

Which headline packed the stronger emotional punch to get people sharing online?

That of the Washington Post.

Which news outlet is using the methods of online, for profit, social media-based publishers?

The Washington Post. This is a sad story that would not make the news except for (a) there was video of the fall, and (b) it fit the narrative of being distracted by cell phones.

It is understandable how the story started out incorrect but it is inexcusable that the media spins the story as walking while distracted by a cell phone, even after briefly acknowledging the victim is legally blind.

When the media cannot report a simple story correctly, what do you think they are doing with complex stories?



Using “need for approval” to manipulate people on social media

Humans have a natural need for approval, and this is most evident on social media. People don’t spend hours on these social networks posting both personal and public status updates, pictures, videos, etc. for the heck of it. They do it for the attention! They want to appear happier, healthier, wealthier, funnier, smarter, etc. and for everyone to adore them for it. Which is why those of us who market on social media need to learn how to utilize it!

Source: There’s A Natural Need For Approval On Social Media, Here’s How to Utilize It For Your Strategy – Stay N Alive

The remarkable power of propaganda

I just scanned Twitter for items about the Affordable Care Act.

I estimate 99% of the Tweets were lies, contained significant errors, left out key information, or significantly exaggerated points. This included linked news stories at main stream news services such as the Los Angeles Times and NPR and others, which contained significant inaccuracies or left out crucial information and data that refuted the thrust of the article.

How many read the ACA? Probably a number approaching zero.

How many researched any of the topics at all? Probably a very small number.

So why are these people posting so much nonsense on Twitter?

Because of the effectiveness of propaganda that has delivered messages to them, which they in turn, regurgitate online, further spreading the propaganda message.

I covered this previously in National public opinion surveys are propaganda messaging in disguise.

Unfortunately, most national surveys of “American’s opinions” are surveys of propaganda effectiveness. The survey itself then adds to the growing body of propaganda messaging on a subject and becomes, itself, a form of propaganda.

You can go to and find similar surveys.

  • 9% of American’s Feel Shingles Vaccination is a Priority
  • Many believe race relations will worsen under Trump
  • 68% of Americans believe humans are causing warming
  • 71% of Americans consider granola bars to be healthy

Surveys often follow a period of concerted propaganda messaging in the media.

In these and other cases, the survey is primarily measuring the effectiveness of the propaganda messaging around a subject. Most American’s understand little of the facts or logic for any of these items (and many more). Survey respondents are regurgitating the view given to them by propaganda messaging and the methods used to persuade masses of people.


Should you make political posts on Facebook? No, you should not.

This is a MUST READ item – see the link below.

Should you share political posts?

The first question you should ask before sharing anything to social media, political posts in particular, is “Why?

“Why are you sharing this post? What do you hope to accomplish?”


We sometimes think that our Facebook shares are so brilliant, insightful, and righteous that people of opposing opinions can’t help but be swayed and won over by our argument.


Nothing could be further from the truth.

Source: The Dangers of Being Too Political on Social Media

Truth is, no one cares what any of us think. Further, most political posts are virtue signalling (look at me! I agree with this!), change no one’s opinion, get others emotionally riled up, and may even make others angry and upset.

Most of us, presumably, do not voluntarily use social media to be made angry and upset each day, and to live an anxiety filled life.

As the linked article notes, there is a difference between sharing items without propagandizing the message, or sharing humor political items, or sharing thoughtful commentary pieces that make us think.  Versus telling others what to think with an arrogant attitude that “I’m right and your wrong” (see the linked article).

We can take charge by unfollowing and unfriending those who feel compelled to fill our news feed with angry political posts.

I recently unfriended or unfollowed about 15% of my social media contacts, including extended family, because of their near daily rants on a variety of political ideologies. It is their right to post what they want; it is also our right not to listen and to avoid the emotional toll that such daily rants have on us.

I and many others learned that social media caused us emotional harm. Rather than abandon social media, I chose to put myself in control and to turn off the spigot of daily rants (and widely shared fake news) – and use social media for those activities that add positive value to my life.