Crafting Narratives is as old as time itself, humanity’s written history is nothing more than the victor’s storytelling. Surviving Kings and Conquerors left posterity press releases.
TV News or Political soundbytes are NOT real. They are not actual events, but staged affairs. Principle actors, producers and advertisers slave over the finished product. Snippets demonstrating proof their imprint is wide invade our subconscious; they toil overttime, delete truths at will. We are absorbing material which is influenced by everything from the anchor’s personal belief system to what the Producers and Advertisers want. Money corrupts our newstream just as surely as money corrupts.
What imperils a Democracy, indeed civilization is when we actually believe that the Narrative is truth. (NOTE To Self: It is NOT the Narrative, it is the BELIEF in the Narrative which perpetuates ignorance) Doing research for our Boston account, I wanted to burn some touristy New Hampshire ski, and visitor RSS Feeds, and even there, discovered material surrounding the negative impact of news and networks upon society. Quoting Jefferson, and outlining how the upper classes forced Federalism upon the population of colonial New Hampshire, FreeStateProject.Org informs us how Narrative was manipulated. Even though the large majority of New Hampshire voters were against a strong federal government, a few wealthy influencers were able to craft the narrative and get their own way; ratify the U.S. Constitution, and create a representative democracy as opposed to a true democracy.
Is crafted narrative insidious, or am I just cynical and naive? Ah! This is the perfect question, and I want you to judge for yourself. There is a process we must undergo to unravel the influence of the press upon our judgement. We must migrate a radical shift from “absorbing” all news stories and thinking there is an ounce of truth in them, to doubting their validity ~ in short we must: “QUESTION EVERYTHING”. If you are Liberal, it is not enough to call FoxNews “whacky” you must question Maddow and Sharpton, and MSNBC. If you are Conservative, you must question Bill O’Reilly, NewsMax and Brietbart. We can ill afford to question narrative, only to turn upon ourselves and walk away with a firmer resolve that our favorite network is the one that is telling the truth – that would be a mistake.
None of them are actually telling the truth, all networks are crafting narratives.
I’ll cite many examples in this series as the months unfold. I’ll also request that our writers explore this subject regularly. I want to look at a recent example of Crafted Narratives even at the risk of dating this piece.
The Immigration debate rages in the United States. Both Liberals and Conservatives agree on the basic facts: About 110,000 Illegal Immigrants have crossed the border of the United States this year, (this is the total who’ve been detained, some obviously slipped past border agents) and are flooding the legal system, Border Patrol, Homeland Security personell, Immigration Court system, and local municipalities. Even Pro Immigration talking heads can agree that there is a huge influx of people, sadly, most of them minors into the U.S. President Obama predicts another 140,000 more in 2015 will cross the border without a Visa.
However, that is about all anyone agrees upon, even calling them “Illegal Orphans” conjures up swift rebukes on social media, and people want to call them “refugees”.
Why would there be an immediate and emotional response over calling these Immigrants “Illegal” or “Refugees”? Because of Crafted Narratives. Conservatives call them Illegal Immigrants, Illegals, Ophans, abandoned orphans, and aliens. Liberals call them Refugees, Undocumented Minors, Undocumented Unaccompanied Immigrants, Undocumented Aliens, or other variations in an attempt to avoid the word “illegal”.
Our fake news source determines on which side of the fence we sit. It is in the network or newspapers own interest to pick a side and stoke emotions.
One can determine almost intuitively what news source a person absorbs and believes based upon their reaction to the word “illegal” or “refugee”. Even this article, will likely provoke fierce reaction ~ not because I am taking sides in the dispute, but because of the amount of crafted narrative you the reader have absorbed. The psychological impact of absorbing propaganda over a long period of time determines the amount of vehemence issues forth from the pen or tongue.
The crafted narrative for instance from Liberal publications like ThinkProgress, MotherJones or the HuffingtonPost would NEVER call the immigrants “illegal” and sometimes go to comical lengths to keep that expression out of the paper, while sources like Fox or Newsmax, argue that as soon as the alien steps foot on American soil, they have violated U.S. and International law.
To muddy the waters appeasers would have us think that “both sides are correct and both sides are wrong” which is not even the point! The point is that there is a cynicism in crafted narratives which purposely falsifies facts in order to trigger emotions and keep the reader within the comfort zone of their personal belief system.
I am humbled that you have read thus far. I know in this busy world, we just don’t have time to read anymore, we “skim” articles. I’ll quickly cite two crafted narratives from both sides on this topic.
On the right leaning Libertarian Newsmax site, I found headlines like: “Illegal Alien Arrested on Charges of Rape and Murder” and another: “18 of 20 Minors Fail to Show for Immigration Hearing” ~ clearly the bold fonts and language are designed to stir up emotions of the readership and provoke an emotional response. [Using incidents of crime is an age old technique for crafting narrative. Any person seeking the truth of a matter intuitively knows the network or news source is isolating one case, to project an image of the whole]
But isn’t that the job of journalists to sell papers and sensationalize the truth? You decide. Or more importantly, judge what you are absorbing. If in fact an undocumented alien with a criminal background raped and murdered someone, then research that fact. Go to the Court website, verify that they were charged with a crime. Double check the facts. Does this person even exist? How do you know it’s a real story and not just fiction? You don’t unless you are willing to accept first that journalism is not what it used to be. In the age where every mom and pop can craft a pretty slick looking blog, don’t take that to mean anything. WordPress can make us all look like “experts” on any subject.
On the Liberal side of crafted narratives, in a WashingtonPost front page article, I found: “Deportation Policies May Have Fueled Rise of Gangs”. The author crafts a tenuous theory, that the U.S. is responsible for gang violence in Central America, because the U.S. deports criminals. The U.S. criminal deportation policy sends the criminals back to their homelands, and thus causes gang violence which is at the root of the current U.S. immigration wave. [ This remarkable string of reasoning doesn’t stem from any U.S. sources, but from Latinos in Central America.] Why would WaPo want to script a narrative that it is the people of the United States to blame ~ you and I ~ for gangs 5,000 miles away?
Skewed Central American logic aside, the WashingtonPost is “shifting the narrative” away from the enormous problems the U.S. faces in “what to do with the aliens” to: “this is a humanitarian crisis caused by gang violence”.
There is no attempt to suggest what Americans can do about gang violence in Guatemala or El Salvadore. Nor is there any hard statistics or facts in this article. One of the sources cited is a pro immigration community service volunteer who flatly states that the kids are “victims of gang violence” who are so traumatized they can’t speak about it, at least not to Judges or reporters, but apparently the kids speak to her. We have to take her word for it, since she doesn’t quote one living soul, no mother, no child, no relative. We are left to accept the “crafted narrative” or reject it wholesale on the grounds of veracity, or take what parts we find are true. In deed and action we are Jury.
Toss aside your notions of “fair and balanced” or “no spin” as this does NOT exist in America. Cast off your notions that the press is unbiased. When you see something coming out of the Congress or the White House, stop accepting it as truth.
When Networks rehash and explain the story in simple terms, each sentence is nuanced truth by subtraction, seemingly and with no morality or rules, carvers of stories insert words which trigger your belief system and blood pressure.
Crafting Narratives is storytelling. Press Releases from media are 90 percent propaganda, with a morsel of nouns and verbs that cling sparingly to few real facts ~ and convincingly manipulate grammar to promote agenda and power.
Bookmark This Page, Send it to a Friend, I love to discuss sociocultural & subcultural shifts in anthropological and sociological disciplines, with a heavy emphasis on marketing, sales and revenue.
Lon is Publisher Editor of Social N Worldwide, Inc. and Tweets at PronetworkBuild Lon uses scientific marketing techniques to achieve measurable human results and sales. His older brand, ProNetworkBuild uses a fusion of Social and SEO marketing to craft specific immediate traffic and conversions to websites.
Social N Worldwide has over 4 million readers
RSS Feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/Pronetworkbuildcom?format=xml
How Big is Social N Anyway? http://socialnworldwide.com/who-we-are-map/
# # #
FreeStateProject.Org How One State Passed the Constitution: http://freestateproject.org/blogs/ratification-new-hampshire