TOP THREE TRICKS
Discussion of tactics for manipulating American media, according to Ryan Holiday.
Book I of Ryan Holiday’s Trust Me, I’m Lying is very informative regarding tricks for manipulating the media in order to achieve a desired outcome. The three tricks that sparked my interest the most were tactic three: Give Them What Spreads, Not What’s Good, tactic six: Make it all About the Headline, and tactic nine: Just Make Stuff up (Everyone Else is Doing It).
Tactic three: Give Them What Spreads, Not What’s Good exists on the basis of traffic. Internet traffic is ultimately how a site makes money, so when content is shared that is when it is making money and the content proves to be of monetary value. MIT professor Henry Jenkins offers “If it doesn’t spread, it’s dead”(Holiday 74). What Jenkins is describing is the fact that if content is not shared and being spread across the internet creating traffic, is is not making any money and is therefore worthless or “dead”.
Tactic six: Make it all About the Headline describes the phenomenon of clickbait. In relation to tactic three, websites need to produce traffic in order to turn a profit. The headline is important because it can attract somebody to click on an article or it can just as easily deter them from clicking on said content. Headlines always need to be more shocking and impressive than the last in order to draw a reader in. Headlines have to successfully embody the central idea of the article while also being unique and interesting to draw a reader in and cause them to click on the article.
Tactic nine: Just Make Stuff up (Everyone Else is Doing It) illuminates the journalist’s ability to find the angle of any story. Journalism operates on the basis of collecting details however interesting and mundane, and reporting to the public on these findings in a way that is captivating, entertaining, and evokes discussion. In this day in age, bloggers are faced with the competition of around-the-clock content creation, and can end up stuck with stories that do not have an angle that would be interesting to the public. In a desperate attempt to put out entertaining content, this is where fake news becomes introduced. It can be tempting for bloggers to find information from social media platforms or other sources that “traded up the chain”. They end up publishing false information just to be the first to publish on the subject.
I have encountered all three of the aforementioned tactics personally, as a media consumer. One tactic, however, I would like to highlight is tactic six: Make it all About the Headline. This tactic that defines the concept of clickbait is quite relevant in my personal media consumption. I have a friend who often sends me articles with a shocking headline, and then I ask her a question about it and she does not know the answer. I then go on to read the article and once my question is answered I realize that she never read the article, simply just the headline and then sent it on over to me. I (like half the world right now) am a huge Ariana Grande fan. This friend sent me a post via instagram with a link to an article headlined “Ariana Grande mistakenly gets 'bbq grill' tattoo instead of '7 Rings' on her palm”. I did not want to believe her, but she did not have any further information because she had not read the article. Now, if you followed this story then you will know that Ari knew she was altering the message when she tweaked the characters for reasons of comfort when she had this tattoo done. The moral of the story is this title was an example of clickbait that I encounter very often.