Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Slow news day?

Well, here is a perfect example of how low someone can go.

It's a short article so I'll quote the whole thing, from Yahoo news:

Child Run Over Using Wheeled Shoes
Wednesday January 31, 04:31 AM

A 12-year-old boy is seriously ill in hospital after being knocked down by a car as he crossed the road wearing a pair of Heelys. The boy was hit by a car in Seaford, East Sussex, on Sunday. Police said he was wearing a pair of the fashionable Heelys, which are trainers with wheels.
The shoes have a single or double wheel in the heel that allows the wearer to go from walking to rolling simply by shifting their weight to their heels.
A Sussex Police spokesman said: "The 12-year-old boy remains in hospital in a serious condition. We can confirm that he was wearing what are known as Heelys.
"An investigation into the circumstances is taking place. No charges have been made."

Consider the repeated mention of the shoes this chid was wearing. Over and over, we are told he was wearing Heelys when he was hit. Most of the article is about the shoes. Yet there is nothing to suggest that the shoes were in any way responsible for the accident. Maybe the driver was going too fast. Maybe the child didn't look before crossing. Maybe it was just an accident. If the shoes were in any way responsible, that would have been stated very clearly. It is therefore reasonably safe to assume they were not.

Watch for a massive backlash from this against these new shoes. People are simple beasts, really, and the news reporters know it. This repeated mention of the shoes is meant to imply that these shoes are dangerous. It's news-hype at its lowest, using a tragic accident to crank up a vendetta against a shoemaker. The reporter will no doubt be paid well for this piece of psychological manipulation.

Will it work? It's the same trick stage magicians use to force a random audience member to pick a particular number. They mention the number over and over throughout the act, so no matter who they select, that number will be the first one in the volunteer's mind. It works with playing cards (keep using the words 'ace' and 'clubs' in unrelated conversation for a while, then ask someone to name the first playing card that comes into their heads. In fact, you think of one now). It works with absolutely anything.

So yes, it will work. There will be an outcry. Parents will ban their children from wearing these shoes. Sales will fall to zero, the inventor will end up broke. And all to further the career of a low-life reporter with no real news to report.

It's sickening how easily the masses can be manipulated. Free will? An illusion that works as long as you don't realise you're being told what to think. The general population can be convinced of absolutely anything using these techniques, and it happens far more often than you think. It's not just stage magicians and reporters who use tricks like this. Politicians are good at it too. So are conspiracy theorists, and the darker, seedier cults. Keep asserting what you want people to think and they'll think it. Link it with something shocking, like a child run over by a car, and you can get your message accepted in as few words as the article above uses.

Don't just scan news stories. Read them. Look at what they actually say, instead of what they imply. You might be surprised.

I haven't tried these shoes. I don't want to risk the danger of looking like a total idiot on the street.

8 comments:

Southern Writer said...

Some journalists are idiots - and some editors allow them to be. What vendetta could the author of that piece have against the shoes. He simply sounds like a bad writer, padding the piece to fill space, to me.

I have a news bar that runs across the top of my computer (does everyone have that?) and when something catches my eye, I click and open it to read. Earlier, there was a story about a young newlywed couple in Utah who robbed a bank together. He'd robbed the bank twice before, but the third time, she helped him. At the end of the article, where they always put quotes by the eyewitnesses or neighbors, or any yahoo they can get a quote from, is this:

Adam Lauritzen said he met the Riches last week when a water pipe flooded condominium B across from the couple's unit C. "They came out and put out towels," he said. "We just talked about the water line breaking."

Someone hold the presses! They couldn't get a better quote than that???

Victor Allen Winters said...

This is why I despise Corporate Media. No Impartiality. No worrying about the facts. Lots of propoganda. This is another one of those, if we repeat it enough, It will be true, things.

Romulus Crowe said...

I don't think the reporter would have had a personal vendetta here. Rather, I suspect the motivation is, as is often the case 'get a story that will run and run'.

It's an opportunist story - hype up that there were roller-shoes involved and let the readers assume they were to blame.

This is a very blatant example, but it reveals the technique nicely.

tom sheepandgoats said...

Here in America, the story would highlight whether or not the vehicle was an SUV. (do you have those in the UK, or is it just America?) If it was, the Heelys would be ignored and the SUV would be the culprit, as if its driver had no control over the willfull villain.

Steve G said...

Unfortunate, but if it sells the news, that's what gets the attention. It gets old and I for one, get tired of reading or looking at it.

heyjude said...

Sometimes something inadvetently kills a product/company - look at what happened to Ayds diet candy
http://www.bayarearadio.org/blog/2005/07/how-to-lose-weight-1982-edition.html

Southern Writer said...

*waves* I stopped by.

Romulus Crowe said...

Lose weight with Ayds - cruel, but I laughed anyway. Although that's not the fault of the press. The name must have sounded like a great idea before AIDS arrived. There can't be a PR company in the world who could have saved that product.

On a separate note - the weather's improving. Should be good enough for photos soon, if it keeps up.

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