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Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator Kindle Edition
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However as I read on it became clear that whatever baggage about the author anyone might bring to the text, and regardless of how the tone of the book made me feel about him, Ryan Holliday actually had a great deal to say that resonated and that should worry us all about the changing consumption and creation of news.
We in the UK never really had the US culture where papers employed cadres of “fact checkers”. So the book’s mainly US depiction of the huge leap from that to a frequent reliance on often unchecked, even speculative, blog content is in much starker contrast to the situation in the UK. Here it could be said that there have been one or two traditional journalists happily creating such copy long before blogs or social media.
This isn’t just a book long whinge about the state of things. There are detailed and insightful musings on how this has evolved, how it is sustained, and why we should worry about it. Read in particular his thoughts on iterative journalism.
There is a great deal that is quotable in this book, but what I would love to have been able to quote would have been some solutions offered to the issues at hand. However Ryan Holliday freely admits he doesn’t really have any solutions other than appealing to people’s better nature. Even more worryingly no one may have answers to these issues, and nothing may change until the medium itself does.
As with Damian McBride's book Power Trip: A Decade of Policy, Plots and Spin, you certainly shouldn't take as an instruction manual Holiday's accounts of how he regularly manipulated, bamboozled and fooled bloggers and the media into running false, exaggerated and self-serving stories. But as with McBride too, along the way there is also a canny account of how the media works, its strengths and weaknesses.
Trust Me, I'm Lying contains much valuable insight into how what we hear, see and read is chosen and composed, especially the way stories can be planted on small blogs with low editorial standards which then bubble up through the ranks, gaining audience and apparent credibility along the way. Holiday is good too on how the underlying economics of American blogging works against good quality coverage and on the weaknesses of Wikipedia.
Some of Holiday's tactics have unsurprisingly attracted much controversy since he has confessed his sins - such as the faking of documents to "leak" under false names to bloggers in order to get them speculating about a product or company.
But don't let your eye slip uncritically over his wider comments about the structure of the media. Although his views on topics such as the default tone of snark in much blogging have some merit, he often greatly exaggerates how awful things are. Nothing is occasionally bad in his book - it's permanently awful.Read more ›
This is interesting in a way because it reveals the true nature of 'conspiracies'. You don't need a small elite of all powerful illuminati to make a conspiracy, just a bunch of unconnected amoral (media) people who all have the same inter connected financial interests and respond the same way. A conspiracy of mis-representation results- which is the author's principal conclusion. But, again - that's business as usual. There's no difference here between legitimate (the author's differentiation- not mine) journalists expressing their editors' narrative, or a real academic historian (with a waist-coat, pince nez and the usual junk of 'gravitas') spouting the fads of their generation. Its all selected to benefit somebody or other's finances or status- that's what being a social monkey is all about. What is strange is that writing this is a 'revelation', not just normality!
I think that's why this book is good, it is at least honest in its overt expression. (I probably wouldn't like to go further than that... unless I knew the author very very well....).
The most useful part I thought was his dismissal of metrics. As an outsider to the media industry, I was never impressed with the latent crudity of this mechanism, (although its something to watch carefully) and it is reassuring to be told that they are also currently handled with consumate ineptitude by users!
The bottom line though is that this book should be of only academic interest...Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
great insight into the world of media manipulation recommended if you're in marketingPublished 3 months ago by LIAMB
Scary, This is well worth a read it will open up your eyes about what you are reading both on-line and printedPublished 11 months ago by Jeanius
Brilliant book... a must-read if you're interested in modern media, both online and print. Ryan even delves into the distant history of traditional media to give fascinating... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Jam Mad
Very interesting and informative book. A couple chapters were somewhat rambling but still interesting and a fantastic book nonetheless. A must read, it really changes your life.Published 15 months ago by John
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