News media is supposed to inform the people about what’s happening in the nation. Instead the news media has taken on itself to misinform the people. Sometimes they distort the truth because they are under the control of those in power and sometimes they do it for their own benefit. But whatever be the reason, the fact is that news is manipulated regularly and the information provided to the people is incomplete, misleading or just simply not true. They use many techniques to manipulate the news. Here are the top 10 techniques of news manipulation.
This is one of the most common tools of news manipulation. The media is supposed to be impartial and supposed to represent both sides of the story without choosing any sides. In reality what happens is that news media chooses the side that is most beneficial to them and then focuses only on that side of the story. They will either not report about the other side, or if they do, they’ll manipulate the stories of the other side and show only those comments that validate their own point of view.
This is something news media uses from time to time to manipulate news. They report a story citing a source that doesn’t exist. They know that the normal audience of their news story is not going to verify whether their source is credible or not, if it exists at all. They use this technique to put forward their own opinion or sometimes to provide exposure to their clients. It’s almost as if news has become another form of advertising.
Researchers know that it is very hard to come up with definite results in a research. Their results are based on statistics and talk about things in probabilities and chances. The news media takes advantage of this fact and shows selective parts of a research to make their own point. Statistics can also be easily manipulated to fit a particular point of view. For example if a researcher finds that 40% of the subjects who ate chocolate developed cancer later on in life, the news media will use headlines such as “New research shows that chocolate causes cancer”. But they forget to mention that 60% of the people who were studied did not get cancer. It’s a very common technique used for media manipulation.
This is similar to using selective parts of research and statistics. The idea is to show only that part of a fact that proves their own point of view while hiding the rest. Technically they haven’t lied but just told a part of the truth while choosing to ignore the rest of it. This kind of manipulation of news is used frequently to misrepresent the truth.
Often we hear on news shows about polls conducted by them on certain topics. But how do we know who voted on this poll? How many people voted? Are the results real or manufactured? We can’t know all this but when we see that 70% of people polled were against certain government move we think that 70% of the nation is against it. This is far from the truth. If they only polled 10 people it would take only 7 people to make 70%! These polls are never a representation of the truth or the national sentiment which is very hard to measure in the first place.
A common technique used for news manipulation is to distract the audience. If a raging topic is given less and less time on the news and then finally taken off it, the people also tend to forget about it. They move on to whatever new story the news is following. There have been a lot of important issues that have been swept under the rug with the help of this technique.
While interviewing important people, one easy way to manipulate them is to ask leading questions. These are questions designed to incite a particular response. This is a common technique of dialectic invented by Socrates in ancient Greece and is still used today by politicians, businessmen and news media.
Another way to manipulate news is to use quotes of important personalities in misleading ways. They take a quote and show it out of context, without showing the explanation offered by the person after the quote. Sometimes they’ll take one part of the quote and forget the other part which explains things. They do this to sensationalize the news. We regularly hear about celebrities who said something inappropriate but later find out that the quote was taken out of context.
It’s not easy to manipulate news if the people are smart, aware and active. An aware audience is not good audience for the news media so they try to keep us under control by doing what can only be termed as fear mongering. Everyday we are shown news of deaths, murders, accidents, rapes and robberies. These are crimes that are supposed to be solved by the police. We don’t really need to know about them. All the crimes in the country can’t be shown on national news because there are too many crimes taking place everyday. Instead of showing us a hint of these crimes it would be better if they focused on making a better society where crime was less. But we are daily bombarded with these horrific stories because they try to keep us afraid. When we are afraid and disgusted from the news we tend to distract ourselves with movies, TV serials and the internet. We end up becoming distrustful of our neighbors and strangers and we stop being proactive when it comes to social issues. Such an audience is easily manipulated by the news media.
You must have heard the phrase “according to experts” or “critics say” or some other version on the news. They will never name who these experts and critics are or what their qualification is. A lot of time when they do name the expert it turns out to be a minor player of that particular industry who’s paid to mouth the channel’s own opinion. Sometimes they’ll bring in two experts and have them fight over a topic to create sensationalized news and attract more viewers. This is probably the most common technique of news manipulation and such news is nothing but a waste of time.