Propaganda is not fact – you need to read between the lines

“The news isn’t there to tell you what happened. It’s there to tell you what it wants you to hear or what it thinks you want to hear.”

Joss Whedon, Astonishing X-Men, Vol. 2: Dangerous

I have a great deal of respect for journalists who’ve made it their life’s work to conduct solid reporting based on facts rather than opinions. Who’ve allowed readers to gain unbiased information and inspiration in order to formulate their own conclusion on a particular subject or circumstance.

However, I have a great deal of contempt for “so called” journalists who do nothing more than inaccurately shape the reader’s perception by stretching the truth and massaging reality in an effort to fit their own agenda.

Case in point. MarketWatch, which is part of the Dow Jones group (along with the Wall Street Journal and Barrons), often republishes material from other resources – repurposing them with new titles that are many times misleading from the original content.

One recent story was titled “The 5 cars nobody wants to buy this year” by Andrew Stoy. It was taken from an article from Autoweek entitled, “Five cars that have seen 2015 sales plummet”. While similar, each title has a very different connotation for the reader – especially if you’re doing nothing more than skimming through it.

Stoy’s title and subsequent article paint a rather grim picture of the 2015 Chrysler Town & Country minivan – whose sales have dropped some 47% thus far this year.

Stoy leads people to believe that the minivan market is dead, the current van is uncompetitive and even goes on to make the assumption that an upcoming redesign won’t help the Town & Country’s cause and sales will undoubtedly continue to fall.

Propaganda has been defined as “information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.” I’d say that’s the case here.

Yes, the minivan market is not what it used to be. But as it turns out, the steep sales decline of the Chrysler minivan is due in large part to the factory which builds them being closed since February to re-tool for a new model.

Prior to the closing, Chrysler tried their best to crank out as many vans as possible to meet the predicted demand, but ultimately it wasn’t enough to fill the void of this popular van – leading to the sales decline.

As I mentioned above, Stoy’s spin on the article has inaccurately shaped the reader’s perception by stretching the truth and massaging reality to fit his agenda.

People often believe what they read, rather than educate themselves based on facts before forming any conclusions. Eric Hoffer once remarked that, “Propaganda does not deceive people; it merely helps them to deceive themselves.”

Regardless of the subject matter or the circumstance, the facts should be the facts, not some sensationalized headline created to fit a much larger (and more damaging) agenda.

Readers need to do their research before simply believing everything they see (especially when it’s anything created online). Don’t allow yourself to be a puppet, whose perception is being shaped by somebody else.