The manipulators


Predictably, there were some Yes supporters who couldn’t resist signalling their glee at the prospect of several hundred people and their families facing uncertainty in the weeks before Christmas.

If, like me, you have learned to question absolutely everything conveyed by the media, you will have read Kevin McKenna’s assertion in The National and wondered if it was true. You will have wondered if there actually any Yes supporters indulging in public displays of unseemly schadenfreude at the prospective misfortune of Scotsman employees and their families.

If, like me, you have learned to distrust such claims unless backed up with persuasive evidence or authoritative argument, you will be wondering why Mr McKenna has neglected to provide even a single example to illustrate the behaviour to which he refers. After all, he must have witnessed this behaviour. He would hardly claim that Yes supporters were “signalling their glee” at the possibility of people suffering the Dickensian Yuletide he evokes unless he had actually seen at least one or two instances of such contemptible conduct. He wouldn’t expect us to take this serious allegation on trust. Would he?

If, like me, you have learned that certain terms can have a particular significance when deployed by journalists, you will have realised that prefacing this claim with the word ‘predictably’ is intended to strongly imply a truth so obvious that the reader would be a fool to doubt it. Or, if not a fool, then certainly someone outside the priesthood of journalism and so denied their privileged access to truth. Which amounts to the same thing as being a fool, I suppose.

Journalists are manipulators. They manipulate information. They manipulate language. They manipulate perception. Ultimately, they manipulate people. This is entirely unsurprising and quite uncontroversial. After all, journalists work, for the most part, in an industry devoted to manipulation of people’s perceptions. Manipulation is a function of control. Control is a function of power. Power must be made manifest. Manipulators gotta manipulate. They can’t help themselves. Crucially, they don’t get paid unless they can demonstrate their ability to manipulate. And you’re only as good as your most recent bit of manipulation.

This doesn’t necessarily make journalists bad people. Everybody has to make a living. And it very much depends on what power is being served by those manipulative skills. Or, rather, how we perceive the power that is so served.

Perhaps, like me, you begin to see the problem.


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5 thoughts on “The manipulators

  1. Yes Peter! I read the article waiting anxiously for our “double standards” to be exposed. I’m afraid, like many, that Mr McKenna sails with a wind that best pushes his boat along. I have read him many times being critical of aspects of life in these island of which he disapproves but no criticism of the opinion formers in the media who promulgate much of what he disapproves of! He is rightly concerned for the future welfare of those who may find themselves in “challenging circumstances” – has he ever wondered how the people in Scotland would have fared had they not been subject to the dishonesty, bias and misinformation spread by many of those propagandists. I’m afraid my respect for the print media is at a very low ebb and Mr McKenna’s privileged posturings do little to persuade me otherwise.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Johnston Press is a business, one with enormous debts. It has done what many other companies have done, when financially straitened. They have gone into receivership only to be bought out seemingly 5 minutes later, and with most of their debts written off. Investors take risks of this sort and can’t complain if they lose. But it’s staff at the Scotsman and many other papers who really lose out, because their pension pots disappeared in a puff of smoke.
    https://www.pressgazette.co.uk/johnston-press-chief-executives-full-email-to-staff-after-jpi-media-takeover/

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  3. No you are wrong Peter, the hundreds of people you have seen evidence of showing glee with the demise of the Scotsman are happy that the Scotsman newspaper is having a difficult time if the Scotsman newspaper happens to make its employees redundant or happens to rip them off by stealing their pension you should direct your anger at the people who run it and not the people that show glee at the newspapers demise.
    We will also be glad when Scotland gets independence even though there will undoubtedly be people who work for the British government and for the media in Scotland who lose their job because they supported the wrong side.
    And that’s important here in this discussion, supporting the wrong side, there is definitely a wrong side.
    I have no sympathy for people who work for British newspapers that print lies every day about my country and it is lies that they print, not just opinions.
    You supporting journalists because you are a journalist is folly if the journalists you are supporting are on the wrong side.
    Lying journalists do have families yes people on the wrong side have families yes.
    Manipulation ? Get real man ,for you to try and make out that the lies printed by the media in Scotland is best described as manipulation is a joke ,lost your way there ,lying in the newspapers every day and omitting the truth is not accurately described as manipulation as if somehow it’s just like a little improvement of the storyline.
    Honestly I can’t believe you have said that.
    These lying journalists will pay the cost for their dishonesty ,dishonesty when you raid the biscuit tin isn’t that serious, dishonesty at the level we have seen in the newspapers in Scotland is a very much more serious matter.

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