Media manipulation discussion–sparks fly between Peter Shankman and Ryan Holiday

Here’s a fascinating video discussion found on Shel Holtz’s blog on media manipulation. I’m sending it your way for a couple of reasons. One, it is a recorded video using Google Hangouts which is a pretty handy way of easily creating and sharing discussions.

More important, this lively discussion features Peter Shankman and Ryan Holiday discussing the topic of media manipulation. Ryan just released a book called “Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator.” Peter works for Vocus who bought his operation HARO, Help a Reporter Out, which is used by journalists and sources to connect. Ryan used HARO to demonstrate how easy it was to manipulate the media. Which means that HARO was a focal point for the deception. Hence, this discussion unfortunately demonstrates some personal animus, particularly from Shankman toward Holiday.

Some light, in addition to the heat, was provided by Shel Holtz and John Jantch of Duct Tape Marketing.

Considering my post on Jonah Lehrer, I find it interesting to see this kind of discussion happening. Truth, trust and credibility are becoming rarer commodities. Personally, I am grateful that some of the dishonesty and lack of credibility in today’s media is becoming more of a headline because I believe that manipulation is much more possible and powerful with a gullible audience. And the sharp decline in trust in media is demonstrating that audience gullibility is declining.

But, it leaves the poignant question: who can we trust? Living in a group, a community, an office, a company, a nation or world without trust is not pleasant and it is far from efficient. Somehow, we have to figure out how to get it back. Unlike Shankman, while I do not appreciate Holiday’s methods, I do appreciate his efforts and I believe it will help bring these important issues forward.


One thought on “Media manipulation discussion–sparks fly between Peter Shankman and Ryan Holiday”

  1. Thanks for forwarding this, Gerald. I think that, moving forward, we’re going to that who we trust is going to change from the dominant model of the late twentieth century. Trust in figureheads is disappearing. Many, many people (and this is borne out in trust polls) no longer trust those in positions of power. (I would say call it fool me once…) And because of the rise of new social networks (read: not specifically social media networks) this process will only speed up.

    In place of those past information dispensing points (read: those in power), we have our social network. Friends, families, neighbors, digital neighbors, colleagues. We are increasingly no longer bound by time and space for relationships. In the last year, I’ve learned about incidents that could affect the public health from a fire chief in Arizona, a risk communicator in Seattle and a planner in New York. Rather than my information being funneled through one person who has access to all of the information (and, as an aside, can tweak or dispense the information they see fit), I collect what is relevant to me from other, more decentralized sources.

    The main rationale for this change is, I believe, that those who control access to information have, at times, become invested in parsing out information that is of benefit to them (see: liberal media bias). As the public has pulled back the curtain they’ve begun to understand that there is more out there and they’re being, in their minds, lied to through omission. Now I have the ability to pick and choose which sources are giving me the information I need or want. This idea is a powerful one that has vast implications. The information I want is not always the information I need, or even the information that is true. (We in public health risk communication have learned this in spades over the last few years.) I humbly submit that our national discussion will only turn more poisonous, more combative, in the near future as media falls back to a state it was in the early twentieth century, where every city had dozens of newspapers, each spouting rhetoric that was designed to inflame and sell papers. Each was also hyper-focused on a worldview that resonated with their target population. We now have television networks that do just that, not to mention thousands of blogs who are little more than the hucksters of old repackaged for the 21st century.

    Trust in figureheads is dying. Trust in the self, and those who mirror the self is rising.

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