Journalists can’t help but chase sensational stories. Media manipulator Ryan Holiday explains why

Journalists can’t help but chase sensational stories. Media manipulator Ryan Holiday explains why ...

Ryan Holiday is a media manipulator. As the Director of Marketing at American Apparel, he knows he can guarantee press coverage by issuing press releases or marketing materials that are controversial, unprecedented or just out of the ordinary.

The demands of online journalism, where page views reign supreme and the time between starting an article and pressing publish is increasingly restricted, has triggered all sorts of unprecedented and questionable journalistic behavior.

Holiday exposed this last year when he used Help A Reporter Out (HARO), a free service that connects sources with journalists, to respond to queries that he knew nothing about.

The idea was to put himself forward as an expert on the subject and see which, if any publications would verify his credentials before publishing his comments.

Reuters, ABC News, CBS and even the New York Times fell for this ploy. Holiday has since written a book, called “Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator” explaining the numerous problems with how the media and marketing industries operate.

We caught up with Holiday at The Next Web Conference in Amsterdam last week to find out what’s been happening since the launch of the book, both in terms of his own career and how journalists are working online.

“What I’ve noticed more than anything, is the general forces that I talk about in the book, are so strong that the fact that I’ve given them away or I’ve said what I’m doing hasn’t changed the system’s desire to get sensational stories,” he said.

“In fact, I could still use Help a Reporter Out today, and The New York Times still allows its reporters to use this service. So to me that goes to what I’m saying, which is that they don’t really care.

“Because at the end of the day the people that read the news aren’t their customers. Advertisers don’t care, they like this, they like this sort of sensationalism and the easy page view model. Because they’re not complaining, it’s not changing.”

Don’t miss the rest of our coverage from The Next Web Conference Europe 2013.

Image Credit: Julia Deboer/Flickr

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