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Trust Me, I’m Lying

Confessions of a Media Manipulator

By Ryan Holiday
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Trust Me, I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday

Trust Me, I’m Lying (2012) is an in-depth exposé of today’s news culture, which is primarily channeled through online media sites called blogs. By detailing his experiences with multimillion-dollar public relations campaigns, the author takes us behind the scenes of today’s most popular and influential blogs to paint an unsettling picture of why we shouldn’t believe everything that is labeled as news.

Key idea 1 of 9

Blogs get content from other blogs, meaning that even trivial stories can get passed along to respected news sites.

In today’s internet-dominated society, most people get their news online. These online news sources, or blogs, are the newspaper of the twenty-first century.

And just like newspapers, blogs are always looking for fresh stories. These days, that means they watch what spreads across social-media sites like Twitter and what is written on smaller blogs.

If a story generates enough buzz across these media, chances are it will be picked up by mid-level blogs, which bring it to an even wider audience. And if the buzz continues from there, the story may make its way to major news outlets like the New York Times or CNN, as they also keep an eye on blogs for promising stories.

A perfect example of this is when American football quarterback Kurt Warner jokingly suggested that a quarterback from a rival team, Brett Favre, join the reality TV show Dancing With The Stars.

The humorous, yet erroneous, story debuted on a small entertainment blog with the title “Brett Favre is Kurt Warner’s Pick for DWTS: ‘Controversy is good for ratings’.” But then the story was picked up by a CNN-affiliate which ran it with the headline: “Brett Favre’s Next Step?”

When it finally reached national news publication USA Today, the joke had transformed into a fully fledged rumor: “Brett Favre joining ‘DWTS’ Season 12 Cast?”

The stories aren’t always this petty, though. Smaller blogs and social media have broken major stories as well.

Surprisingly, the death of Osama Bin Laden was first reported by a user on Twitter. This was before major news outlets, blogs or even President Obama confirmed its factuality.

Regardless, both examples show one thing: all blogs are interdependent, so it’s no surprise that even trivial stories can become national headlines.

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