AEJ: Don't Fall For Media Manipulations

Expert Voices | July 1, 2014, Tuesday // 13:52|  views

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In an open letter to the public, the Association of European Journalists (AEJ) – Bulgaria urged the society not to trust dubious media sources.

It was published on the organisation's website:

"Dear compatriots, 

Be careful in selecting the print, electronic and online publications, which inform you. Always take everything with a grain of salt and never share information, whose credibility is doubtful, no matter how attractive or important it may seem to you at first glance. 

Failing to comply with some basic rules of elementary media literacy brings the risk for you, your family and the entire country, to fall into someone else's plot. The advice we could give you is to always consider the medium, which brings the information, by answering the following questions: 

Does this medium have inclination towards sensations and unsubstantiated rumours?

Does it have long established traditions, or appeared recently? 

Does this particular article bear the name of its author?

Are there other sources confirming the information (You must be cautious, because many sites copy information from one another, but in essence the source is the same)?

What sources are quoted in the article and can they be taken seriously? (Quoting anonymous sources is a legitimate practice, but must be taken with a grain of salt. The phrase “According to informed sources” often disguise the author's opinion.)

What do you know about the owner of the media and the political and economic interests behind it? 

In order to avoid falling victim to manipulation, disregard media, using in their headlines phrases such as “Scandal!”, “Shock!”, “Bomb!”, etc. Their sole aim is to have an emotional impact on the readers/viewers, not to inform them. 

The events of the past several days demonstrated beyond doubt, that the bad media environment affects in a negative manner the entire society. The absence of efficient self regulation leads to extreme deformities and destroys the prestige of the profession. The lack of information which media adhere to the ethical standards for quality journalism, creates an environment in which part of the consumers are inclined to trust anyone or to condemn media and journalists as a whole. 

Perhaps it is high time that we hold a professional debate on how to separate the wheat from the chaff and how to do so, that the media with high professional standards stand out among those who do not adhere to some basic rules."

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