Bad News Sells Better

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on November 18, 2016 in News & Opinion |

Fake news is in the news, but not all fake news makes it to the forefront, not when it comes to highly thought-of and well established concerns who have been in the business of reporting for many years, rather than just having had a Twitter account since last June.

This form of fake news, however, is one which has been used by countless different branches of the media since news first became news: playing with facts and figures to either meet an agenda, or to sell. It is faking news by selection: taking one aspect of the news which is, to all intents and purposes correct, but which would be viewed in a different manner if more was added to it, if the rest of the story made it to the headline and first paragraphs too. So here, from Bloomberg, with the family fortune of the Waltons.

Bloomberg Calculations

Screenshot Source: Twitter / Bloomberg

This headline is very selective indeed. It is true, the Walton family fortune did shrink by just over three billion dollars over a period of two or three days. They have indeed become poorer. Take a look, through, at the right hand section of the graph which has not been highlighted. This shows us that the three billion was only ‘earned’ in the last week or so, and that the fortune of the Walton family is still slightly more than it was ten days previously.

Such selection of the facts is as much faking news as creating a news story from scratch and adding a few tidbits and false statistics to make it more believable. But it sells. No one is really interested in knowing that the Walton family is several billion richer than they were back in October. But that they have lost money, that brings a smile to everyone’s face: serve them right! Even though the gains and losses are on paper, and no gain or loss at all, and I don’t think anyone in the family will be losing too much sleep over such variations.

  • Viktoria Michaelis.

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