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Category: Media

Journalism: The first “message” received is the one remembered, even if later proven as false.

Journalism: The first “message” received is the one remembered, even if later proven as false.

Reports of a polar bear spray painted with “T-34” on its side were greatly exaggerated. The tagging was done by scientists, not pranksters. The bear had been rummaging a garbage dump and scientists wanted to see if it was returning. They tagged it with a short duration ink; this was not graffiti by pranksters as initially reported. Typical of this type of report, the original source for the video was unknown, the back story was unknown, and the video was shared on social media by an environmental activist. Media then used social media as a primary source. What could possibly go wrong?

Journalism: Exaggerated headline of the day “Most People Experiencing Homelessness Have Had a Traumatic Brain Injury, Study Finds” #TBI

Journalism: Exaggerated headline of the day “Most People Experiencing Homelessness Have Had a Traumatic Brain Injury, Study Finds” #TBI

“Most people” turns out to be 53%. A more accurate headline would say “About half” or “Just over half”. But what would be a news report without an exaggerated headline? (Disclosure – I have had multiple TBI including a skull fracture – this post is not about TBI or homelessness but about the exaggerated headline.)

Journalism: Newsweek had to recall 125,000 printed copies of its pre-written news “Madam President Special Commemorative Edition” in 2016

Journalism: Newsweek had to recall 125,000 printed copies of its pre-written news “Madam President Special Commemorative Edition” in 2016

In 2016, Newsweek recalled 125,000 copies of this cover, which had been distributed nationwide. You can find copies today on Amazon or EBay. Newsweek blamed a subcontractor saying they had printed two separate editions in order to be prepared but their vendor shipped the wrong one. Newsweek has a history of publishing creative pre-written news stories rather than reporting on events after they have occurred.

Journalism: Newsweek reporter admits making up story, but keeps her job

Journalism: Newsweek reporter admits making up story, but keeps her job

Newsweek reporter caught having manufactured a fictional news report, then calls it an “honest mistake” and keeps her job. Newsweek has a history of publishing fiction stories masquerading as actual news. This is not how to inspire confidence in the news media. (Update: Newsweek confirmed the report about what Trump did on Thanksgiving was written during the week prior to Thanksgiving. The reporter has been fired and the editor has been demoted.)

Journalism: “Fears of economic recession could derail the holiday shopping season – MarketWatch”

Journalism: “Fears of economic recession could derail the holiday shopping season – MarketWatch”

The headline comes from a survey finding consumers are concerned about a future recession. Public opinion polls, particularly when asking people to express an opinion on subjects of which they have neither expert nor first hand knowledge, are primarily measuring the effectiveness of prior propaganda messaging. In this example, 2019 has been filled with a stream of news reports predicting a recession. In fact, these predictions have been underway for years. And they have been wrong – particularly since no one has demonstrated any skill in accurately forecasting future recessions. But they are effective at shaping public opinion, which could result in consumers changing their behavior in ways that reduce economic activity.


The headline story is itself followed by a sequence of upbeat economic news. In fact, 2019 holiday sales are running 15% above the prior year, to date.

Journalism: Activist launching propaganda news service to deliver fake local news, share-able on social media

Journalism: Activist launching propaganda news service to deliver fake local news, share-able on social media

A Democratic party activist is launching a well funded fake local news operation, modeled to a degree, on the Russian Internet Research Agency, to deliver biased or news stories to targeted individuals on Facebook and other social media. The operation will collect data directly from Facebook on who is reading their fake news, and will data mine that to target more people. Do you feel like you are being manipulated yet?

Journalism: How to turn Thanksgiving into an opportunity for political discussions

Journalism: How to turn Thanksgiving into an opportunity for political discussions

I never knew – according to journalists we are expected to argue about inequality and victimization at the Thanksgiving holiday. Journalists have even prepared a handy guide detailing how to support the journalists’ own agenda! Who knew (besides journalists) that we are supposed to turn Thanksgiving into an opportunity for propaganda messaging?

Updated: Apparently this entire genre is a coordinated pseudo-news event intended to be shared on social media and get around Facebook’s algorithms that try to limit some news article distribution. It’s based on the pseudo-news event approach of creating a fake “us versus them” narrative. It is, in fact, 21st century click-bait and nothing more.