Discover Media’s Dirty Little Secrets in Ryan Holiday’s New Book “Trust Me, I’m Lying“
Forget everything you thought you knew about how the news media investigates stories, because in his new book “Trust Me, I’m Lying,” Ryan Holiday reveals startling information about bloggers and the media. In his book, Holiday shares with readers insider tips about how media manipulators blur the lines between fact and fiction to get readers’ attention. You may ask yourself, how does Holiday know so much about the media? Well, he worked as a media manipulator himself for years. Yes, he spent years spinning stories to make his readers believe half-truths, and worked hard to turn mundane stories into attention grabbing headlines. As a professional media manipulator and blogger, he knows how to sell a story and how to make the reader believe they need something, whether or not they actually do.
About Ryan Holiday
Although Holiday dropped out of college at the age of 19, he spent years training under Robert Greene, author of the nationally known book, “The 48 Laws of Power.” It is through this training period that Holiday learned how to be a master media manipulator. He spent years coaching various musicians and authors on how to sell themselves as a brand name, and worked as a marketing strategist for people like Dov Charney and Tucker Max. Companies such as Twitter, Google and YouTube have used his marketing campaign strategies, and he has caught the attention of top media outlets including the New York Times, Gawker and AdAge. He also served as the Director of Marketing for American Apparel, where as he explains in the book, he felt the real consequences of media manipulation. He is still a blogger living in New Orleans, and posts regularly on his own website www.ryanholiday.net.
Why Share His Secrets Now
You might wonder why that after a long career as a media manipulator would Holiday now expose his tactics, and tell the world about the media’s dirty little secrets. As he explains in his book, Holiday believes that media manipulation has gotten out of hand, making it almost impossible for the average person to distinguish fact from fiction. When he began his career, he used these manipulation strategies to help sell basic products, such as books, CDs and t-shirts. However, he now notices these marketing tactics being used to sell everything from good and services to presidential candidates. To make matters worse no-one seems to be holding anyone accountable for this misinformation, and many times flat out lies. In his book, Holiday shares with the reader secret tips and strategies for becoming an expert media manipulator, but he also helps the reader understand how their words and manipulations can have a detrimental effect on the lives of other people.
I. Two Main Sections
“Trust Me, I’m Lying” is broken down into two main sections, with the first part discussing tips for how to become a media manipulator. In this part of the book, Holiday shares the various techniques and strategies that he has learned over the years. The other half of the book explains the consequences involved in these deceptive tactics. Holiday discusses the force behind media manipulation, how bloggers and media networks work together, and why the drive for money and notoriety play a dangerous role in media manipulation.
A. How to Become an Expert Blogger
1. Holiday Share His Professional Secrets
Holiday spends the first half of his book, “Trust Me, I’m Lying,” sharing with the reader the different techniques and strategies he used to manipulate people. As an expert blogger, Holiday explains in detail how even a minor blogger can grab the attention of mainstream media. He reveals secret tips that can help even a virtually unknown blogger attract viewers to his blog over and over. He states that “There are a few fatal flaws in the blogging medium that create opportunities for influence over the media, and ultimately, culture itself.” He spends a good deal of time explaining these flaws to the reader, and telling them how they can use them for their own benefit.
2. Blogs Control and Destroy
This book is perfect for the new blogger, as well as the seasoned blogger with many years under his/her belt. Holiday shares many of the techniques that he perfected over the years, and helps bloggers learn how to create a successful campaign that will pull viewers to their pages. In his book Holiday says, “I’m a media manipulator. In a world where blogs control and destroy the news my job is to control the blogs… I’m going to explain how the media really works. What you choose to do with this information is up to you.” In his book, it seems as if Holiday is saying that there is a purpose for bloggers, and they certainly have immense power, but with power also comes responsibilities. Ultimately, no matter what a blogger writes and how he chooses to manipulate his readers, there are always consequences that should be considered before publishing any blog.
B. Consequences of Media Manipulation
1. Dangerous Power in the Hands of the Blogger
The second part of “Trust Me, I’m Lying” discusses the benefits and dangers of media manipulation. Holiday takes from his own experience as both the manipulator and the one manipulated to share with the readers the consequence that come from leaking half-truths. He talks about how manipulation tactics have destroyed people’s reputation, drove businesses to bankruptcy, and forced otherwise well-like political candidates out of the race.
He discusses in detail the life of a blogger, and reveals things about this profession that average day citizens may not know. His main issue with bloggers is that they are paid by the page view, meaning that the more people view their page, the more money they make. Ultimately, this forces bloggers to create stories as fast as possible, and publish them online at incredibly fast rates. The goal for most bloggers is to get the story out there before anyone else, and attract as much attention as possible to their page.
As Holiday explains, this creates a mad rush for information, and because bloggers are in such a hurry, they submit articles without fully checking the facts. Actually, in many cases, bloggers are publishing stories online without checking any of the facts, and they no longer wait for the other side to respond. Bloggers tend to count on anonymous tips and other undisclosed information. Another major problem is that no one seems to be checking the bloggers or making them accountable to tell the truth or get the facts.
2. National News Media and the Blogger
Even more damaging than bloggers posting misinformation is the fact that the national media outlets are starting to take blogger’s headlines and turn them into national stories. In fact bloggers and media outlets feed off each other. Holiday explains that the when a blogger shares information (even false information) with a media outlet, the news station gets the exclusive to pull in viewers, and the bloggers get their name mentioned all over the air. This may seem like a win-win for everyone except the readers and the viewers. The main problem is that the news stations are also not checking the facts because they are simply reporting on findings from the bloggers. Holiday has seen this media manipulation intensify over the years, and fears that it will only worsen over time. Since no one holds anyone accountable, and it has become more important to get the story first than to get the story right, these tactics are not going to disappear anytime soon. Even if the blogger and/or news media print an update later with new factual information, the damage has already been done, and a correction never gets the same media exposure as the half-true story.
Misinformation in the media is not the only problem that Holiday sees happening, bloggers are also sensationalizing stories that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. In his book, Holiday shares several stories and examples to show the reader how these tactics are effecting how people think about things. Media manipulators are trained to take stories and sell it to the public; this is how they make their money. They can turn one simple misspoken word from a presidential candidate into a three to four-day headline, and literally bankrupt a company by misquoting company information. Holiday believes that the power bloggers have in today’s culture is dangerous, and is hurting many innocent people every year.
3. The Drive for Notoriety and Money
Basically Holiday reveals that the desire for notoriety and money spurs these bloggers and media outlets to set facts aside and push the story through no matter what. Perhaps the most important thing to take from this book is to realize how the media works and who decides what stories are published and when. The book is a real eye-opener to just how much power bloggers have, and how small a role the truth actually plays in today’s media. While reporters, bloggers and news stations are making millions sensationalizing stories, telling half-truths and often spreading outright lies, many people are being destroyed in the process.
“Trust Me, I’m Lying” contains a lot of good information about the world of blogging, and how it affects people’s everyday life. You may never look at another news story the same way after reading this book, but perhaps that is a good thing. Holiday does not provide an ultimate solution to this ever growing problem, because he knows that as long as people continue to read these blogs and demand instant information there is not end in sight. Whether people are willing to sacrifice speed for facts is still yet to be seen, but this book at least brings to light the problem that many people already know about, although maybe not the full extent of it.