Media Manipulation: Rewriting History as it Happens

by JoHarrington

What you see on the news reels and in your papers may not always be the truth. It might not even be an approximation of it. Yet it forms the basis of your world view.

Why are you here? Why did you choose this site over another; this article over the next? Were you lured in by the headline? Did a search engine serve the link to you on a plate?

Why do you trust me? Do you discern any potential agenda? Guessed my biases? Do you know where I came from? Or where I plan to be? Is it possible to know what pressures or influences inform the things I'll write for you?

Have you checked out my credentials? Properly. Not just glanced over them in my profile and believed them true because they're there in type. Do you value my opinion over your own because I wrote mine down? Are you here for validation, confirmation, the ammunition to tear apart people like you perceive me to be?

None of the above, because it takes too long to even contemplate and no-one has time for stuff like that. So come on in. Let us see how far your faith is justified.

BREAKING NEWS Reader Enters Wizzley Writer's Web

Anything is news, if you put it in bold enough type, prominently placed amidst eye-catching colors designed to trigger alarm.
Image: Media Manipulation
Image: Media Manipulation

Enjoying my page? Some readers react more consciously to colors than others, but we all register the subtle code whether we know it or not. Forget the words, you started with the formatting.

I went for scary. Red background, stripey lines disappearing off into the ether, jagged font like something advertising a horror movie.

Did it make you feel uneasy? Or excited, like you were here to be let in on some big secret?

It was supposed to, but I never think that stuff like that works on me either. I could have gone for bright, primary colors though. The sort that you find in nurseries. I don't know. It concerns me that you might trust me less, if I did things like that. Safe, baby colors do not make for hard-hitting journalism. Best leave them for children's books.

Do you know what's the most noticeable combination of colors to the human eye? The ones which make us instantly look up, alert, not satisfied until we've seen what message it's telling us?

No, not red. Everyone always thinks it's red, which is why they miss it staring at us from so many newsrooms.  Black on yellow. Like on the road signs.  And hi-viz jackets. The optimum colors for attention and/or alarm, the quickest route to directing our focus.

Yellow and Black Alert

Image: Hazard Sign
Image: Hazard Sign
Image: Construction Sign
Image: Construction...
Image: CNN
Image: CNN
Image: School Sign
Image: School Sign

Or we could go for red. Everyone knows about it, but not for the reason that they think they do.

Red works more emotionally than yellow. It's dramatic. Dangerous. Bit edgy. It denotes a world beset with peril. Hearts beat faster. Pulse quickens just that little bit. Red is slightly harder to spot, yet it does that job of sparking a reaction so much better.

Stick some white around red and you have the other end of the spectrum. White comforts in purity, feeling clean and wholesome in our view. Surround red with lovely white and the danger is contained.

Put the white inside the red for trust. Only this place, pure white place, has news you can rely on. A beacon of hope, untainted by the evils besetting us all around.

Red and White Excite the Emotions

Image: BBC
Image: BBC
Image: Fox News
Image: Fox News
Image: Sky News
Image: Sky News
Image: CNN
Image: CNN

We should also chuck black and white into the mix. It's exactly what it says on the packet. Black and white views; plain speaking; no messing around in the presentation; each and every word is true because it's right down there in black and white. Possibly beside graphs. Nothing like charts and statistics to seem intelligent, clear cut and precise.

All of this is acting upon us before we take in a single word. Designers set the ambiance upon their own stage, and they're very good at their jobs. We're rendered receptive, not only to news items but to messages delivered as subtext too.

But then again, what do I know? If you'd checked my credentials, you'd have spotted that I'm a writer not an artist. While I distract with colors, I can mess with words. I'm very good at my job.

Books about Media Manipulation

Look at all those media experts using red and white headers for their book titles. Like so many news outlets do too! We can trust them. White.

BREAKING NEWS Fear Monger Writer Patronizes Readers

Uncertainty surrounded a Wizzley page today, after author Jo insinuated that she had manipulated readers with words.

'Manipulate' is such a strong word. It can make the tiniest narrative guidance appear quite worrying.

Moreover, it's a view dismissed as irrelevant by leading expert Liam Dodd, Media Analyst with J.O.P.A.L., who commented, "It really is a storm in a teacup. Jo handled the direction of delivery, but that's what she's there to do. Anyone who calls this 'manipulation' really doesn't understand the writing genre."

Now let's pass over to the right hand side of the screen where we can see Angelina Jolie.

Photographed with her husband, Brad Pitt, the actress looks beautiful in a silky, beige-y tan colored dress with lovely Celtic knotwork swirls on it in a variety of hues.

Brad lived up to his hard man image by wearing black.

Middle Eastern Youth Trashes Temple

Small business owners are living in fear after a resurgence of religious fundamentalism rocked their temple mall. Described as 'of Middle Eastern extraction', the teenager rampaged through the area, overturning tables and wrecking stalls.

Law enforcement spokesperson Ida Dove warned residents to beware and asked for anyone with any information to get in touch. It's unknown if the youth was undocumented.

Fish Frying Fundies Inundate Solitary Space

Officials are on the alert tonight after reports that thousands of religious fundamentalists have been gathering in a remote location.

Many had traveled miles to hear their charismatic Middle Eastern leader speak. Then all indulged in a bizarre fish frying ritual, which was consumed with bread.

It's thought that some of the cult members were sick, congregating in the belief that the self-proclaimed priest could heal them with a single touch.

Wardens warned of rumors that the gang intends to infiltrate local towns and villages.

Parents are urged to be aware, as teenagers and young people are seen as particularly vulnerable to recruitment by the cult.

Livestock Stolen by Semite Cult Gang

There is growing concern after a group of religious cultists besieged an out of town residence, stealing two animals, while their owner stood by powerless to stop them.

A donkey and colt belonging to Beth Phage were untied and taken by gang members, who jeered, "My Lord needs them."

"They obviously targeted Mrs Phage because her smallholding is isolated." A neighbor told us. "She's really shaken, but we all are. Who knows what they'll be back to snatch next."

Coming Up a top Economic Analyst asks:

Why Aren't Tax-payers Protected from Itinerant Religious Cultists?

See also:  Semite Cult Leaders Tax Fraud

Senator in Death Penalty Call for Middle East Cult Leaders

Are Our Children Safe?

Immigrant Gang Takes Over Historic Garden

Terrified residents have been left helpless after an itinerant gang of foreigners swarmed into space close to their homes.

It's believed that a Middle Eastern religious cult group have invaded the green band nature reserve.

"They're chanting prayers!" Mother of three Olive Mound told us. "No-one seems to care that my children are living with this day and night. I've had to close all of my windows and keep my kids inside. It's not fair that they can't go out to play because no-one is doing anything about religious nut-jobs."

Neighbor Gat Smane (74) shared his concerns, "The garden is an historic site, which usually attracts visitors to the old oil press. It's being trashed by this Semite cult gang sleeping overnight, drinking wine, cooking food and having speeches."

Residents have organized a petition to call upon the authorities to arrest ring-leaders.

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BREAKING NEWS Semite Cult Gang Smashed!

Ring leaders scatter as authorities raid fundie camp.

Reports are coming in of a successful bust by authorities on the headquarters of a religious fundamentalist faction recently terrorizing the country.

It's not yet known how many of the ring leaders are in custody, but it's believed that many of them fled into the surrounding countryside. Stay tuned for more information as it emerges.

Evil Cult Leader Threatened to 'Destroy Temples'

It seems that the spell cast by their self-confessed mystic cult leader is dissipating amongst his disillusioned followers.

Some adherents of the religious cult talked of 'brain-washing'. Others had dire warnings. "You don't know what he's capable of. He told us he was going to destroy all the temples, then rebuild them within three days."

The evil genius behind a series of religious criminal gang incursions is yet to comment beyond his initial claim of police brutality during his capture. "Do you think I'm leading a rebellion?" He's said to have shouted, as he was led away in shackles, before sneering at the number of weapons brought for his arrest.

Cult Lieutenant Cornered by Eagle-Eyed Public

'Messiah' deputy sobs as deception uncovered.

A Middle Eastern man - thought to be the itinerant religious cultist's second in command - is finally in custody tonight, after alert service industry workers spotted him in a public courtyard.

Two women independently raised the alarm after each noticed the man sitting suspiciously in the shade. They had both recognized him from previous sightings, when he'd been in the presence of insurgent coreligionists and their enigmatic leader.

Initially he denied all accusations, displaying increasing agitation as Have a Go heroes surrounded their quarry and prevented his escape.

"You are surely one of them." One local hero accused. "Your accent gives you away."

Their quarry is alleged to have erupted in curses before sitting down on a wall and sobbing.

As the cult's deputy, he would have been privy to all inner sanctum discussions and strategy.

Meanwhile there are unconfirmed rumors that a second high-ranking cult conspirator has committed suicide rather than face being brought to justice.

The nation was put on high alert after Semite gang members fled the scene of their leader's capture. His lieutenants now top the Most Wanted list issued by federal authorities.

Ordinary cult members are urged to return to their families. Help-lines have been set up staffed by experts in the rehabilitation of minds entangled in the grasp of religious cults.

Exit counselors are ready to intervene in the worst cases.

Tonight's extended news coverage looks into the phenomenon and asks how cultists were able to wreak such havoc before authorities were able to bring them down.

Don't miss an exclusive televised documentary to follow: Religious Terrorism: The Evil in Our Midst - a look at how fanatics target the most vulnerable in society, particularly disillusioned youth sectors, and what we can do to protect ourselves.

Capital Punishment Clamor for Insurgent Cult Leader

Law makers and temple officials join growing calls for 'dark magician' terrorist boss to face the ultimate penalty for organizing gang crime spree.

Crowds of concerned citizens have gathered for a vigil outside the place where self-proclaimed 'Messiah' head honcho of religious insurgents is being held.

Chants filled the air. "He is worthy of death!" was one oft-repeated refrain.

They are not alone in that opinion. Governors, judges and faith leaders have all added their own voices to the campaign for capital punishment in this case.

"People say that no-one got killed." Chief Priest of the Temple addressed the rally. "But that's wrong. There's a body hanging from a tree which tells us it was wrong. Plus it was only a matter of time before there was a very big tragedy.

"How do you destroy all of the temples without risking the lives of all inside?"

The Supreme Governor is expected to issue a ruling later on today.

Death Penalty for Cult Terrorist 'Messiah'

Christ on the Cross, circa 1630

And now for the sport and weather in your local area - brought to you in conjunction with a corporation, who just paid us lots of money to say whatever they want us to say.

Books about Media Scares and Moral Panics as News

Fear sells newspapers. Anxiety brings people in front of television screens seeking out updates. If our lives and all that we hold dear are under threat, we seek information.

BREAKING NEWS Readers Distracted by Fear Story

Visitors to a Wizzley page were startled by revelations that author manipulation claims had been buried by a prolonged social scare story.

Oh come on! This is ancient news that's being dragged up, and it was disproved at the time!

Only conspiracy theorists or small-minded individuals would have any interest in revisiting such old, dodgy ground.

This is like those people who remain convinced that Communists have taken over Hollywood, and we all know how well the McCarthy witch-hunt played out. All those wasted hours and ruined lives over what amounted to scare-mongering taken to the extreme by deluded individuals willing to believe anything.

What you're seeing here is the conservative agenda in action. They would love to discredit me because they know that I'm a freedom loving individual, who cares deeply for the country that they would dismantle with their unpatriotic elitist policies.

Our nation will only survive if ordinary people like you and I stand up to such hate groups. Like Holocaust Deniers, about whom I think we can agree our focus should be right now. There are more important debates to be had there than in any petty raking up of past non-issues.

How Will Kim and Kanye's Child Turn Out?

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BREAKING NEWS Writer Commits Crimes Against Logic

Wizzley author Jo stands accused of using fallacies, manufacturing distractions and employing dirty tricks of debate to side-step writer manipulation charges.

Ok! You got me!  But what on Earth made you think that I was impartial in the first place?

Writing is my livelihood. It's what puts bread on the table and pays my bills. Why prioritize some vague assumption on the part of readers that they deserve the 'truth' - like that was ever a singular concept - over what sells?

Nor should anyone look at me like I'm the only one.

I'm just a small-time Wizzley writer. My earnings rely upon advertizing commission, without even the added bonus of manufacturers paying me to air their products. The biggest news outlets can demand it, offering exposure and publicity by using their stories to ensure attention is focused firmly on the screens or print pages.

Their 'adverts' don't even have to be so obvious. The news stories themselves can just as easily be written to serve the interests of the biggest bidder.

Whether it's television news channels, print papers or internet up-to-the-minute rundowns of what's happening across the globe, media is business. Business is there to make money. They are run by executives who may also be quite interested in attaining power and influence, as they have quite enough money already.

Every day, in every corner of the world, something is happening. It's happening here. I'm typing. It's happening there. You're reading. It's occurring in the street outside - a car just drove past, implying a driver en route to a destination, where no doubt some story about their day will unfold. Babies are born. People die. Greatness is unfolding in such heroic proportions. Minutiae is rolling out too, countless examples of it, every banal bit of it of utmost importance to those experiencing it.

All of this is as much news as that involving celebrities, world leaders, sports stars, criminals and the ordinary people fleetingly famous through heart-warming human interest stories.

Why are they alone 'human interest'?  In whose interests does the rest of the news serve?

What constitutes news is selected by those who profit from the telling; conveyed in ways designed to attract attention, maintain attention, generate attention, because without attention there is no profit; sold back to us as truths - unadulterated and without censorship, shipped as the only version of the truth that there could ever possibly be - because that's what we expect to see, and no-one profits if that veneer should slip.

But what do I know? I'm just a writer manipulating words into a tool to tell you things.

Learn More About Media Manipulation Techniques...

CORRECTION: A while back, we reported that 'the Messiah' threatened to destroy temples and rebuild them in three days. This transpired to be false witness and therefore entirely untrue. Apology issued as directed by a court order received today.

... and Ask Yourself 'Whom Does It Serve?'

Wizzley Articles Which May Inform the Discussion

Things can be written in many different ways. The words that you choose will create a mood that subtly works on your reader, like background music in a movie.
Did you know that 15 words is the optimum length of a sentence? Discover how to set moods without the reader even noticing.
Publication shows how world governments, since the Ancient Greeks, have used propaganda to influence the way we think. Book focuses mainly on the 20th and 21st centuries.
Did ghostly Welsh bowmen, from the Battle of Agincourt, rise up to cover the retreat of beleaguered British soldiers in World War One? No, but many believe that they did.
Updated: 01/12/2015, JoHarrington
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?

Your turn! This was packed full of media manipulation - most not even pointed out. What did you see? And where else have you spotted such dirty tricks?

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JoHarrington on 11/12/2014 is great, isn't it? I'm forever checking there too.

It's amazing how much calmer you feel, when you get your news from various sources, rather than the one. You mix and match the manipulation and scare tactics until they barely work.

AngelaJohnson on 11/12/2014

I don't watch any news on TV. I don't want the news fed to me by a particular station. I choose what I want to read from the internet, but with caution. I never believe anything on social media unless I check it out from another source. I use to check out urban legends, fake stories and photographs.

JoHarrington on 11/04/2014

I read your entire comment nodding like a bobble head doll. That is the point of the media, unless you truly find an independent publication. But even then, there will be bias. Or a measure of reflexivity at least.

It's not only in the commentary, but in the selection of facts upon which to comment, which in turn is reliant upon which facts are made available from which to select.

humagaia on 11/03/2014

We get what we deserve! If we do not think for ourselves our thoughts are governed by others. I often ask myself "Why is this or that question not asked?" - then I remember - we are not governed by what we need to know, but by what others want us to know. Here in the UK we (supposedly) elect people to government who will represent our views - yeah right! We have an (independent) broadcasting company (BBC) that is respected worldwide as a source of unbiased news - but as soon as 'commentary' arrives the bias arrives too. Newspapers, which I can only comment upon from my own bias (as I do not purchase them) all cow-tow to an owners' agenda (political or otherwise).
All this is why filtering just the facts from the commentary within social media is so important as news sources in an otherwise skewed politically-biased commentary of the world in which we survive.
Point in context (UK): Cameron entreated us that we were 'ALL (to be, no exceptions) in this (getting out of a financial 'crisis') together'. The general consensus (media reporting) was that this was 'beneficial' (to whom is debatable, my bias). Yet, now that there is some recovery (reported from fiscal units, government departments, regurgitated by media), but not necessarily by ALL, there is no media commentary, nor consolidated social movement (presumably because there are no media calls) for us ALL, once again, to be 'in this together', that is, benefitting from the increased wealth of OUR country (although Brussels seems to be requiring their cut of our performance). WE, the people, should demand 'performance related pay', that is pay commensurate with the overall 'better' performance of our entire economy! WE, the people, got the country out of the mess, and we should now be rewarded for OUR efforts!
We should 'ALL be in this together!'.
But where are our media when we need them most? Doing what religions did for(?) us in the past - placated our fears, downgraded our aspirations, and generally made sure the populace (US) kept in line.
That is the bottom line to all this - keep the population in line - sheep mentality to the fore - as mentioned in another comment.
Jo, as always, thought provoking . Beware, giving aware THEIR secrets may become your demise.

JoHarrington on 10/29/2014

The control of information is the primary way to control any population. That's why Goebbels ordered the seizure of all newspaper offices and radio stations, along with the academe, in any country invaded by the Third Reich.

Always-Writing on 10/28/2014

Great article, Jo! I have talked about the manipulation in our media since the 1980's. Most of those who listened though I was part of the fringe element. Those who rely solely on the mainstream media simply do not know that they are being made into sheep. Sheep are usually led to slaughter, and go obediently and willingly.

JoHarrington on 10/28/2014

I did consider including them, but I was trying to blur the line between now and then. I couldn't put them in without referring to either the Chiliarch or the National Guard, so it would have placed it.

frankbeswick on 10/28/2014

Reflections on Gethsemane: there were in the arresting group three elements: the thuggish high priest's servants, such as Malchus; the temple guard; and a detachment of Romans for public order, whose presence is revealed by the fact that John's Gospel mentions the Chiliarch, the senior officer in Jerusalem Any report on Gethsemane should mention the presence of the establshment's hired thugs, who seemed to be at the heart of the arrest. These servants were the equivalent of brownshirts, a gang who were sent to "sort out" the chief priest's opponents.

JoHarrington on 10/28/2014

(Answering second comment) Liam really is Jo's pal. :p And that happens way more often in media reporting than you'd credit.

The British news industry is forever reporting on our Chancellor George Osbourne, then seeking to 'prove' his financial policy is sound by bringing in an 'independent' body. They ALWAYS go for the OBR (Office of Budget Responsibility), which was founded by George Osbourne. This is an example in reality which is no different to me bringing in Liam to support my claims that I'm innocent of manipulation.

Several things are going on with the celebrities, sport and weather (though the latter is arguably newsworthy). One is to distract instantly, so your focus is removed from what's just happened. Another is to actually present these things as news. Because it's right there, in the wrappings of news items, it automatically becomes so. After a while, no-one even questions their right to be there. Another is that these are 'safe' subjects. No-one is going to feel uneasy talking about the weather - hence the propensity to finish on that one - as it's a shared experience, which makes us all feel like we're on the same side. There are plenty more facets besides. I could fill a whole new article on the banal distractions substituted as news.

I'm glad that this article was as informative as I hoped, and not just taking the proverbial!

JoHarrington on 10/28/2014

Thank you very much. :)

Yes, I sat here with a Bible in another tab and read each story portrayed here first. Then imagined how those events would have been reported by the newspapers at the time. Everything reported happened, though I did make up some of the eye-witness accounts, for example Olive Mound and Gat Sname (or Mound of Olives and an older rendering of Gethesename). Where I could, I tried to use direct quotes from the scripture. There were plenty in the St Peter story, which I was able to simply lift out.

Jesus, Apostles and other followers in the Garden of Gethesename v the Occupy Movement, absolute links there! At least from the viewpoint of 'concerned local residents', and the fact that armed officers moved in to break it up.

In the Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie section, I just repeated 'manipulation' with different words. Manipulation is bad, but 'direction', 'handling' or 'guidance' are good. In context, they all mean the same thing.

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