Matt's Reviews > Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator

Trust Me, I'm Lying by Ryan Holiday
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Sep 16, 12

Read in September, 2012

Great book to understand the way blogs actually work. To understand how what we consider reality is often manufactured by PR strategists (read media manipulators).

A great quote:

Words like "developing", "exclusive", and "sources" are incongruent with our long-held assumptions about what they mean or what's behind them. Bloggers use these "substance words" to give status to their flimsy stories. They use the language of Woodward and Bernstein but apply it to a media world that would make even Hearst queasy. They use what George W. S. Trow called "abandoned shells". loc.3257

Here are my reading notes:

# How blogs work
Bloggers are constantly looking for something to publish
More pageviews = more ad impressions = more money = bigger salaries for bloggers

### Trading up the food chain
Getting something to be published on a small blog is easier
Unfortunately it is more and more conventional to quote another blog as a source
The smaller blogs become sources for the medium-sized blogs and the medium-sized blogs become sources for the big fish
The top of the food chain is occupied by TV stations and reputated newspapers (CNN, NYT, etc)

### The valence of the emotion brings shares/clicks
Extreme emotions will encourage sharing
Some emotions are better than others (good = anger/happiness/humour — bad = sadness)

### Headlines
Headlines do not have to be 100% accurate, they just need to drive traffic
A leak might subtly recommend a headline for the story

### Death by cuteness
SEO has become a science
Headlines and picture/video titles are reworked to attract more people
Recommendations and filters lead users from one page to the next, from one ad to another
lolcatz, fail pictures, and other memes are low-quality content easy to aggregate and bundle with associated ads
This leads to unproductive time wasted in a bubble of cuteness

### The link economy
The link becomes the unit of sharing
We are moving from a content economy to a link economy. Links have value, content less.
Blog articles have the one-off problem: what matters is attracting viewers, not retaining them
Subscriptions help in solving the one-off problem but subscriptions are not the norm
It's unproductive to blame bloggers, the incentives are the ones that are making the system work

# Conclusion
The dominant medium is changing from TV to the internet. As Postman stated, the dominant medium becomes the culture.
Our new culture is then dominated by the worship of traffic.
TV had to make us keep watching. The internet has to make us keep sharing.

The casualties of this new unreality are:

- the violation of our minds through marketing
- reality, truth
- importance

# Mitigation techniques
Maintain journalistic integrity
Do not trust blogs as a primary source
Beware of cuteness
Break the circle of one blog feeding another with silence
Subscribe to news sources
Value content over speed of delivery
Make time for long articles
Look for the important news. Don't wait for it to bubble up
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