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on 4 September 2017
Enlightening read
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on 4 July 2015
Harrowing. True.
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on 5 April 2017
Excellent read
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 17 August 2014
Like Damian McBride, Ryan Holiday is a repentant spinner. Whilst McBride's beat was British politics, Holiday's is American culture, including time as Director of Marketing for the controversial clothing firm American Apparel.

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.

Finally, this is a book about the US and in some respects Britain is very different, especially given the influence of the BBC and more widely TV channels with their own active social media presences still driven by a requirement of impartiality. For British readers, Holiday is more like one volume in a trilogy, with McBride and Nick Davies's Flat Earth News: An Award-winning Reporter Exposes Falsehood, Distortion and Propaganda in the Global Media the other two.
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on 30 November 2015
Despite some intriguing reviews which led me to pick up this book, once I opened it I really thought that I had made a mistake. I hadn’t come across the author before but I wasn’t enamoured of the dubious techniques referenced (despite the fact that the author said that he had effectively repented from the use of such methods). There was also an arrogant feel to it all which did rankle.

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.
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on 2 November 2015
An interesting book for its subject matter rather than style. Its revealing, not so much of the subjectivety based on financial motives in the media (who'd have thought eh?), but that the facile world of blogging is... really facile. Through and through.
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...
If you have Ghostery, AdBlock, No Script, a VPN, a 'junk' email, and don't use social networking sites or links, I doubt very much if you've seen an advert on the internet for years... Reading this book is the equivalent of going to the zoo and reading the display signs of those oddly grouped together herds of dim flighty bovine herbivores who's natural function is to constitute meals for individual carnivores.
Nice to hear from a carnivore for a change. "Admirable hunting methods".
So... ummm...why are you sharing? That's not very carnivorous behaviour... or is it? Maybe you're trying to flush something out in this hunt...? Given the contrite breast beating, I'd have thought the author had real loot via entry into the networking classes in his sights here. Maybe this book is a means to qualifiying for a nice Washington media responsibility lobby perhaps.... and all that lovely lovely free Government money!
Leopards and spots do tend to come to mind.
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on 2 August 2014
It arrived bent and damaged. The book was for a gift and didn't have time to send back so was disappointed.
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on 21 April 2016
I would recommend this to anyone. A very readable and entertaining account of how the online media is manipulated and how stories grow. Lots of lessons in here, and Ryan Holliday is an interesting guy. I particularly enjoyed reading about how he reconciles his ethics with his work. He also writes very engagingly, once I picked this up I couldn't put it down.
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on 17 November 2014
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 insights. Also fab if you're a marketer or modern consumer!
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on 10 August 2012
The author is the twenty-something former Director of Communications for American Apparel. He identifies the problems with the modern mediaverse which allow him to gain free mass market coverage for his clients' consumer products. This boils down to one thing: complete a stunt (disappointingly only three or four real life examples are given in the entire book). Get a low-level local blogger to cover it, by sending him the story, complete with story angle and pictures, from a fake e-mail address. That blogger is read by medium sized bloggers and aggregators, who may pick it up. They're read by real journalists who will steal the story, or make it real by requesting an interview. The blogging universe described here is entirely American. Any UK-based readers will get better media analysis from Private Eye, or by reading 'Flat Earth News', a superior expose of how the media really works. The rest of the book rehearses tired observations about journalists being lazy, cowardly, overworked and underpaid, and of fact-checking which has descended to ensuring that someone else has said it already. The book is sloppily copy-edited. Don't buy. You've had the digested read.
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