Every day the internet gets bombarded with thousands of news articles and reports, or so it seems to be. In reality, most of the “news” is hardly newsworthy at all, making it infotainment at best.
That is the first thing you have to confirm for yourself. Are you dealing with actual news or merely infotainment? In today’s media landscape the differences in appearance are harder and harder to spot by untrained eyes and minds.
What all infotainment has in common is that at the end of the day none of it really made you smarter or more aware of crucial world or local events. Infotainment is conceived in that way, to entertain an audience. Not to inform it. To keep you busy talking about things that don’t matter the least bit.
At this point in time it doesn’t even matter any more where you found your latest news or infotainment piece, whether it was printed in a popular newspaper or published on a fringe website. Reality has been distorted so extensively that you simply have to break down each and every news and infotainment piece, one by one. It’s a daunting task but it pays off eventually.
Consider the following kind of content to likely be infotainment at best and black propaganda at worst, although there is much more to it than just this list:
- Reports about stuff that a president or other celebrity puts on Twitter or posts on his/her Facebook page
- Anything that can be reduced to “Democrats versus Republicans“, “(Alt-)Left versus (Alt-)Right”, “Socialists versus Liberals”, “Blacks versus Whites”, “Rich versus Poor”, “Mainstream versus Alternative” etc.
- Anything that can be reduced to “the terrorists against us”
- Anything that tries to keep you in the loop of narratives that have been proven incorrect or false (knowing which narratives have been proven incorrect or false requires a certain amount of knowledge about a wide variety of topics but only over time and through a lot of research can you acquire this – it won’t simply come to you by staying in the crafted news media loop)
If you are not sure about how to approach the news and how to get a real idea of what exactly it is that is being presented to you try using previous work as reference points. For instance, when you go over to the Narrative Analysis section of this website you will find two examples there of real-life cases where the respective news stories were broken down, to eventually come to the conclusion that both were false media reports.
Also the investigative reports published on this website, with the latest listed on the frontpage, can help you understand how to approach news and infotainment items and they can learn you what to look for, what to compare, how to vet information and claims and how to deduct.
When analyzing news and infotainment reports one also dissects the title. The title has to make sense and be about exactly that what the piece or report is about. Many news media outlets will have you arrive on their website for instance by offering you clickbait titles that lead to insignificant content or mere infotainment.
Next, determining whether or not the story itself is true. You will need to find several reference points to do this. Again, draw your inspiration from the examples that are provided in the Narrative Analysis section.
The easiest way to get a starting point for yourself, regardless of what the topic is, is by comparing the story with at least 3 other sources or outlets. In most cases you will find exact copies of reports and articles, word for word.
When you find at least three identical or very similar copies of the story that you are investigating then it is highly likely that you are dealing with an intensely scripted story. For instance, when the story appears on BBC, AP and Reuters then for sure the story was released by a professional news agency or newswire that is following strict rules about what can and what can’t be put in front of the public.
Quite often it happens that you come across a report that isn’t being confirmed by any other sources or outlets. This is where you have to pay attention because things might change very quickly in such cases. Always keep a copy of the initial report and use that as a reference point. Compare possible later reports by others with this one and detect the contradicting parts, if any.
The first 24 hours are always the most important. It is in this time frame, when dealing with a developing story, that you will always find the best clues, pieces of evidence and flaws. Many times your saved material will produce the best results months later. When everything has been said and done.
Keep copies of everything that you feel that might be of value at a certain time in the future. You can never save too much data. Take screen captures (screen shots), download the videos and files that you come across, copy the texts that you find important. Save it all. There will come a time when you will thank yourself over and over again for building your personal archive.
Several examples will give a clearer picture on how dissecting news and infotainment actually works. The general idea is to make sure that you are not being taken for a ride by anyone, i.e. that you are not being used as a gullible asset.
Example 1: “No Breakthrough in Nuclear Talks as Iran Demands More After U.S. Exit” – Reuters, July 6, 2108
At first sight this report may seem news and not infotainment, after all seeing “nuclear” and “Iran” in the same sentence might trigger most folks to take a defensive position. “War is on my doorstep.”
But is this warranted and is this actually news? When you read the article you will see that it is not news at all. Nothing “new” is being revealed in any way. There’s nothing in there that you didn’t already now about the essence of the hole issue: Iran’s nuclear arsenal.
The whole idea that Iran should not have a nuclear arsenal, because NATO says that Iran is a terrorist state, but the US, Israel and so many other countries should is pretty much nothing more than very hypocritical.
The story about Iran obtaining nuclear weapons is much older than the internet is. As the “world powers”, as the Reuters article refers to them, have been pointing fingers at Iran, during the past 5+ decades, for trying to build a worthy defensive strategy the “world powers” themselves have been expanding their own nuclear arsenal. Yet no one at the table in Vienna, on July 6, gave a statement that also the other “world powers” should get rid of their nuclear arsenals.
Effectively, this article is infotainment.
Example 2: “How Amazon Has Made Money Off Racism And Hate” – Huffington Post, July 6, 2018
By reporting about how Amazon seemingly enables racism the Huffington Post implies that it, Huffington Post, is not as sleazy as Amazon. But is that true? Think about it. How is this even considered news when you look just one step further?
The very fact that the Huffignton Post wants to publish such an infotainment piece proves all by itself that Huffington Post is then just as guilty as Amazon allegedly is. Huffington Post literally exploits “racism” by publishing this piece. When you say that Amazon is guilty of enabling racism and hate then you should also say that Google, Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo and all the other search engines are also enabling racism and hate. After all, one can in a matter of seconds pull up a list of millions of webpages, with these search engines, that promote racism and hate.
But from another perspective, on the same frontpage where we found the Huffington Post infotainment piece we also find “Man Calls Skateboarding Teen ‘Mexican Piece Of S**t,’ Admits He’s Being Racist“. This second Huffington Post article is literally exploiting racism, by giving a platform to such practices, since the aims are to draw clicks and views for Huffington Post’s advertisers and an increased popularity of its website. Clearly the Huffington Post is working with two standards. One for themselves and one for everyone else.