Manipulation

(2014)

All the online news sites from traditional media to the fringe blogs will be experiencing a huge spike in traffic in the next few days, sending their online advertising, SEO and links revenue to very high levels. The timing is perfect with the Christmas shopping season underway, the Ferguson grand jury’s decision coming the very week of Black Friday. They’ll be nice fat holiday bonuses for management this season. But if they want to maintain this high traffic through Christmas, they will have to keep pounding away on controversial stories to try to get them to go viral. Bill Cosby is fucked.

His only hope is some celebrity will die tragically, though the heroin overdose and suicide thing has been done. But the editors will think of something. Keep checking Slate, they tend to be ahead of the game on this.

I’m not making light of a serious issue, but I do think people should be aware that their anger, outrage, grief and emotion can be manipulated to maximize revenue. News, like everything else, is a product now. The news is real, the stories are real, the reporters deadly earnest and photos often stunning. But that’s content. It’s how website editors present and market that content that gets questionable. News becomes malleable, the audience infinitely suggestible, naïve, a marketer’s dream.

Reporters, photographers, film crews, and bloggers in Ferguson.

Reporters, photographers, film crews, and bloggers in Ferguson.