Finally, and most important of all, moors consist of information that is not validated, as actual news is (Diffusion 376). Rumors frequently begin with a hint of truth, but facts are not checked, sources are unreliable, and the truth gets lost as the rumor is spread. In this age of pop media, including television, radio, and internet, rumors spread at lightning speed and results are immediate. In 1969, a young writer named Fred Labor printed a rumor about Paul Ancestry’s death. He became a bit famous because of the rumor and was asked to appear on a television show.
His nerves got the best of him and he admitted to the television host that the Tory was completely fabricated. The host, F. Lee Bailey, replied, ‘”Well, we have an hour of television to do. You are going to have to go along with this” (Glenn 367). Pop media does not care if a rumor is valid, as long as it tells a good story and creates publicity. Gregory Rodriguez states in his article, “Truth is in the Ear of the Beholder’ that “rumors and conspiracy theories can only thrive in the minds of people who are predisposed to believe them” (347).
People tend to believe things that agree with a viewpoint, meet wants and needs, and follow particular beliefs and biases. Every rumor has a target audience and pop media has a way to reach each and every one of them. Robert Knapp says, in his article “A Psychology of Rumor,” there are three kinds of rumors. The “Wish Rumor” expresses the hopes of those who circulate it. The “Bogie Rumor” plays into a group’s fears and anxieties. The “Wedge-driving Aggression Rumor” is motivated by hate and aggression and is usually successful at dividing a group.
Knapp also lists characteristics of a good rumor, (1 ) most good rumors are short and simple, (2) in time a successful rumor becomes a good story, (3) the farther a rumor is removed room fact, the more twisted it becomes, (4) names, numbers, and places cause instability in a rumor, (5) no matter where a rumor comes from, the rumor gains prestige when it is attributed to someone in authority, (6) rumors become an agreement to the culture of the groups circulating them, and (7) rumors must keep adapting themselves to current opinion and interest.
Pop media can play a big role in helping to provide authority and prestige to a rumor, as well as keeping them in the public interest. The media, however, is less apt to cause distortion in a rumor than when it is passed from person to arson because more people hear the rumor in its original context at a given time. Sandra Salmons advises how extreme the results of a rumor can be in her article, “Fighting That Old Devil Rumor. ” Proctor and Gamble, a very old and reputable company, was besieged by a rumor that their moon and stars logo was a mark of the devil and that the company condoned devil worship.
The rumor received a great deal of publicity in papers and on television and became a major problem for Proctor and Gambler’s consumer services department. The company set forth a massive public relations campaign, sing great financial resource, in order to dispel the rumor. Finally, after years of dealing with the rumor, Proctor and Gamble took legal recourse against those they had enough evidence against to take to court. To this day, the company still receives a few calls about the rumor.
In this case though, the media was partially responsible for spreading the rumor, the company also sought media help in trying to dispel the rumor. Proctor and Gamble learned a difficult lesson that Gregory Rodriguez had mentioned in his article. Once a rumor has been established, it cannot always be destroyed by providing the Ruth. Another rumor that gained a great deal of notoriety in 1969 was the tale that Paul McCarty Was dead. McCarty Was a beloved icon of the time and a member of the legendary rock group the Beetles. Alan Glenn discusses the phenomena of this rumor in his article, ‘”Paul is Dead! (said Fred). ” He tells us that on October 12, 1969, a well-known Detroit disc jockey, named Russ Gibbs, got a phone call from a listener wanting to discuss the story that Paul McCarty had actually died three years earlier and had been replaced by a double. Supposedly, the Beetles had covered up Encasements death but revived clues on their albums. Thousands of listeners heard the discussion and one listener took the rumor to another level. Fred Labor, a writer for the Michigan Daily, printed an article with the news of Ancestry’s death and clues that were evidence of the rumor.
A second copy of the paper needed to be printed because so many people were drawn into the rumor that La Four is still credited with sending it out of control. He admitted, and still admits to this day, that he made up most of the clues. They were nothing more than fabrications spread, once again, by pop media of that time. This rumor was spread, largely by the power of suggestion, to a young clue hungry audience who were part of the manic Beetles fantod. The McCarty rumor was discussed on television, in papers and magazines, and promoted on alternative radio.
Like most rumors, this was short lived due to a complete debunking, however, it is still mentioned occasionally today. Another kind of rumor that is often spread by popular media is the political smear rumor. This kind of rumor generally falls into Nape’s aforementioned “Wedge-driving Aggression Rumor. ” According to Samuel G. Freedman, from his article, “In Untruths About Obama, Echoes of a Distant Time,” a political smear rumor is a crude attempt at fear mongering and character assassination” (369).
This type of rumor has been used many times to misrepresent political candidates, especially during presidential elections. Anti-Catholic bigotry rumors were spread against Alfred E. Smith in 1 928, by mailing misleading pictures to thousands of influential people. Catholics were unable to win a presidential nomination, by any major party, until John F. Kennedy received the Democratic nomination in 1960. This political rumor achieved a great deal of success. More recently, there have been many hate rumors spread during both presidential campaigns of our current President, Barack Obama.
The rumors have developed into hate campaigns that, to this day, attempt to portray the President as disloyal to his country and not a true American. Internet blobs, mass e-mails, Insight magazine, and Fox News have represented the President as Muslim and reputed his claim that he is a Christian. The media has also questioned Beam’s citizenship by insisting that his birth certificate is not real and that he was not born to a U. S. Citizen. Though each of these claims have been contradicted by fact many times, the opposing campaigns remained diligent in using Town Hall Meetings and other media events to promote these rumors.
It is not surprising that the first African American president would face the same kind of prejudice as those of the Catholic faith did years ago. It is surprising, however, how easy it is for unverified information to become accepted journalism fact with the help of pop media. Jeremy W. Peters discusses the dangers of an instantaneous news culture and the role popular media plays in the spreading of hearsay to an incredibly huge audience in his article, “A Lie Races Across Twitter Before the Truth Can Boot Up.
He states that it only took two minutes for a young flogger, trying to make a name for himself, to release an unfounded rumor on Twitter that immediately became mainstream news. According to Peters, the flogger, Logan Smith, posted a report on Twitter stating that South Carolina Governor, Nikkei R. Haley, was facing indictment on tax fraud charges. There were reasons to doubt the charges and the flogger later admitted that he was not sure that his sources were correct. Neither did the flogger bother to give the governors office a chance to comment. Instead, he posted the blob on Twitter as if it were fact.
Smith later admitted, “l reported that credible sources said they believed the governor would be indicted – not that knew she would be indicted, or even whether or not I personally believed she would be indicted” (Peters 372). The post was immediately picked up by respected and widely read news sources. Ms. Halley office released a letter from the Internal Revenue Service proving the rumor to be false. The governor, however, felt her reputation had already been damaged. She also believed that this would not be the last time that unfounded rumors would be posted about her on line.
It did not matter that the information was untrue ND unsubstantiated. In the media world of Twitter and Backbone, there is no need for validation because what the posters are seeking is notoriety. The rumor gains credibility when reputable news outlets mistakenly report it as fact. The rumor remains current because these internet media sites provide the opportunity to keep talking about it. It is ironic that social media, the fastest way to spread a rumor, established a means of debunking popular rumors, as well.
In 1 995, Barbara and David Michelson, professional researchers and writers, established Snoops. Com, a website that has become one of the internet most valuable resources. Snoops. Com advertises as “the definitive Internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation. ” One of the earliest rumors tackled by Snoops. Com was the story that Kentucky Fried Chicken had changed its name to KEF because they were no longer using real chicken, but instead had developed a genetically engineered bird that replaced the chicken.
Supposedly this bird had no beak, no feathers, no feet, and fewer bones so that there is more meat. This rumor is declared to be one of the first to spread worldwide by e-mail. Snoops. Com, as well as Cuff’s website, refuted his rumor using fact and finally, the rumor seemed to die down. Recently, however, the use of artificial hormones in animals and the growth of transgenic food crops has caused a resurgence of the rumor. Once again, as the rumor spreads through social media, Snoops. Com tries to dispel people’s fears regarding the use of frankincense’s by KEF by explaining the truth.
Each of these articles discussing rumors is a reminder to be wary of what is heard and read in all types of pop media. They are reminders that much of the information reported on Twitter and Backbone is buzz-seeking unsubstantiated, and full of impropriety. They caution that because it is presented as breaking news in a magazine does not mean it is reputable journalism. These articles also show that one cannot always believe what is seen on television. Rumor can be full of misinformation and exaggeration, yet it is presented, in all forms of popular media, as fact. Pop media is more interested in gaining an audience than in providing the truth. People spread rumors everyday about things of interest to them. The newest and fastest way to spread rumors is by the use of popular media including television, radio, and the internet. Some rumors can be meant as a joke and provide entertainment. Others can be more dangerous, playing on fears and promoting hate and aggression. People process information according to their own needs, then accept it as fact or reject it.
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