1. Where they don’t have hard facts or answers, they provide suspicions, unconfirmed details and speculation.
Here’s an example I got from a TV celebrity news program’s website about Michael Jackson’s memorial service a WEEK before it happened: “The service is liable to happen soon, and artists like Usher and Beyonce` will probably perform to pay tribute. Diana Ross and Quincy Jones, those closest to Michael over the years, are sure to be there to eulogize him.”
It’s obvious that they didn’t have any confirmed details about his service; otherwise, they would’ve noted the details as valid and stated who they were confirmed by. Other indicators that the report was speculation are the use of the words “liable”, “probably” and “are sure”; these are all assuming and anticipatory terms. As it turned out, Beyonce` did not perform, and Diana Ross and Quincy Jones were not at the service. Instead of just waiting until they actually had some confirmed details, they jumped the gun with no evidence to gain ratings.
2. Tricky wording.
As mentioned in point #1, wording plays a role in news media deception. Although the words in the Michael Jackson example were anticipatory, they’re designed to go unoticed and sound factual. The word “sure” is similar to “guaranteed”, and the viewer is supposed to walk away taking the story for fact. Another example of tricky wording is a magazine who called Mariah Carey’s “Glitter” album “low-selling.” The album went platinum, which is a million records. That’s not a small amount. A million is just “low-selling” in comparison to Carey’s other projects. Using the phrase “low-selling” perpetuates the idea the album was a failure. Media uses wording to get THEIR idea across, be it fact or not. Their main goal is to make things sound dramatic, scandalous or attention getting.
3. Sources (Or lack thereof).
You’ve heard it a thousand times. Most stories printed in celebrity news magazines and on blogs use the phrases “sources say”, “insiders say” or “according to sources close to…” A report given on television today said: “Barbara Walters underwent heart valve replacement surgery on Wednesday and is expected to be released within the next few days, multiple sources tell us. Barbara's rep tells us, "No announcements are being made at this time." Despite a lack of a professional confirmation from Barbra’s staff, it’s maintained that Walters had her surgery via nameless, faceless sources. For all you know, the “sources” may not even exist.
3. Convenient Soundbytes.
This happens ALL the time. Depending on what story they’re trying to sell, celebrity media will take a single sentence or 30 seconds out of an hour interview and use it to prove THEIR point, taking the statement out of context. For example, I could have said “It’s so hard to pick just one male actor as a favorite. I don’t have a favorite. I love all of them! Johnny Depp, Denzel Washington, Zac Efron, all of them!!!” But, the media could say “We asked her who her favorite actor was”, and then they’ll only play the part where I say Johnny Depp’s name. I’ve seen and read countless interviews in their entirety and gotten a completely different impression once I saw them, vs. the short clip I saw on TV. It makes a big difference.
4. Use of “experts”
I’ve seen this on T.V. one too many times (mainly because my mom has to watch every celebrity news show known to man for some reason). The celeb media will bring on an “expert”, such as an alleged “child psychologist”, and have them analyze a clip or a photo, like of a celeb kid playing. Of course, the “expert” says something dramatic, like “The body language says that the child is distressed”, and the viewer walks away saying “oh well, that expert psychologist said this, so it must be true.” DON’T BUY IT!!
And it when it comes out that their story was trash, they’ll put a correction in small print in the back of the magazine or briefly talk about it on television bringing little attention to it. Stop buying the stories people!! Start being more analytical about what you read and see-don’t be easily mislead! Pay attention to HOW things are presented. If an incident occurs between a small group of people (or just 2 people) and there’s no evidence of what took place, the media is probably speculating! If someone is allegedly so incredibly reclusive, hard to access, or a loner, how can the media really know ANYthing? Celebrity news media are never well intentioned. They just pretend to genuinely care; with Michael Jackson’s children, they pretend to be “so worried” about what exposure is going to do to them, when they’re the main ones showing paparazzi shots of them chillin’ at the pool!! When Anna Nicole Smith was alive, they portrayed her as a drugged up, drunken “has-been”, but once she died, she was a “beautiful princess with big dreams.” Unbelievable. They either build you up just to tear you down, or vice versa. Moral to the story: Be more aware of what you’re being fed!