Guest Post by Aaron Ledesma, Future Public Relations Professional
Ryan Holiday opened my eyes. His book, Trust Me, I’m Lying, is an amazing testimony on the ethical dilemmas that are being faced today. I will admit that I did not like the book; not because of the quality of the work but because of the content that lies within it.
I have known for some time that there is something disturbing going on in the world of mass media, but this book really talks about these issues in a way that no one else does.
When I reflect on a piece of work, I make references to quotes. The first thing that caught my eye was from the beginning of the book.
“We’re a country governed by public opinion, and public opinion is largely governed by the press, so isn’t it critical to understand what governs the press? What rules over the media, he concluded, rules over the country” (Holiday 14).
This scares the hell out of me, especially since we just went through an election season. Is our country governed by the press? Has is come down to this? If so, we should all be scared after hearing what has and can happen.
The biggest case of the year that I can think of is Manti Te’o’s girlfriend hoax. Before you assume that this is not related to Holiday’s book, let me tell you why it is.
Holiday wrote that, “people are the causalities of a media system defined by what spreads – wholly at the mercy of fraud, exaggeration, stunts, and a thousand subtle felonies against the truth” (Holiday 138).
Te’o’s story is still not completely solved, but what we do know is that this hoax was huge. Why did it get to this point? Because when the story was first covered in Sept. 2012, everyone wanted to cover this “inspirational” story. Everyone jumped on board blinded to the truth. This is a huge issue in the media today. There is no fact checking.
In the section called, “A Broken Philosophy”, Holiday talks about one of his favorite books by Kathryn Schulz. Schulz writes about scientists and journalists. Holiday wrote, “Scientists, she says, replicate each other’s experiments in order to prove or disprove their findings… Science essentially pits the scientists against each other, each looking to disprove the work of others. This process strips out falsehoods, mistakes, and errors. JOURNALISM HAS NO SUCH CULTURE” (Holiday 155).
This scares me. Journalism and media in general should have this culture of higher standards. Accountability is everything.
Source: Holiday, R. (2012). Trust me, i’m lying: Confessions of a media manipulator. New York, NY: Penguin Group.