Rumours and Lies: The new edition of the short story
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The press prints the news but not the truth. It reports in detail the competing propaganda of the conflicting interests but largely neglects the substance of the issue in conflict. A recent example is the coverage of the health care debate. Of the 68 reports on health care reform, 56 focused on political aspects, and only 12 dealt with the economic or individual impacts of various proposals, as reported in the Wall Street Journal. Personalities are more compelling than institutions, facts are often uncertain, attention spans and television sound bites are brief, and simplification—often oversimplification—is the norm.
One is that news can change perceptions, and perceptions often become reality. Adverse leaks or innuendos about a government official often lead to his or her loss of influence, resignation, or dismissal. The stock market is also fertile ground for planted stories.
Don’t get spun by internet rumors.
The subjects of such reports, which are usually fabrications created by opponents, must be prepared to defend themselves instantly. The mere appearance of a disparaging report in the press changes perceptions and, unless effectively rebutted, will change reality and the truth. That is why government officials and politicians—and, increasingly, companies and other institutions—pay as much attention to communications as to policy.
Indeed, much of what appears in the newspapers as business news is nothing more than corporate propaganda. When I was an executive at a large public-relations agency, I was often amused to observe how many of the stories in the Wall Street Journal and the business section of the New York Times were essentially news releases the agency had issued the previous day.
On some days, most of the stories were clearly identifiable as coming—some nearly word for word—from announcements by corporations or government agencies. In an environment in which perceptions can quickly affect policy, companies need to be as alert and aggressive as politicians, government officials, and other interest groups are in ensuring that their positions are favorably represented in the media.
New technology can often help them respond quickly to challenges, accusations, or misstatements. An incident that happened when I managed communications for a large global bank illustrates the ability of organizations to influence the presentation of news and hence the perceptions of the public and of government officials. A Wall Street Journal reporter finished interviewing bank officials on a complex and sensitive matter at about 5 p. Three hours later, at 8 a. As people begin to realize that they are being misled, manipulated, and lied to, they resent it.
From to , only Congress fell further in public esteem than the press, according to surveys of public confidence by the University of Michigan. The decline in confidence reflects a widening feeling that the news media are contentious, unfair, inaccurate, and under the thumb of powerful institutions, a survey by Gallup for the Times-Mirror Center for the People and the Press concluded.
The focus on the politics of Gramm-Rudman obscured the fact that, for complex institutional reasons, government spending and deficits were continuing to rise. The savings-and-loan debacle of the s became so large and costly because the press was unable to focus on it until it became a crisis.
The legislative mistakes and policy failures that had caused it were too complex, too hard to explain, and too boring. Until there was a rash of savings-and-loan failures, enabling the press to show front-page pictures of angry depositors trying to withdraw their money, there was no news and no crisis, and government was unable to respond. In his amusing and anecdotal book Who Stole the News? Coups and earthquakes, he says, are what editors want to report.
Rumours And Lies: The Fleetwood Mac Story
Yet few U. What we learn about foreign news is as dependent on crises and dramatic pictures as our domestic news is. Weaver makes a similar point. The real failing of the press, he argues, is that it has become a victim of the man-bites-dog syndrome. The news stops representing the real world and begins to falsify it.
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The barter transaction between newsmaker and journalist degenerates into an exercise in deceit, manipulation, and exploitation. The debate on health care reform of the past two years could prove to be a turning point in the destructive cycle. Despite a massive effort by the Clinton administration to whip up a sense of crisis and of the need for urgent reform, and despite intensive press coverage of the competing proposals and viewpoints, the result so far has been a stalemate.
On an issue with which people have firsthand experience and a direct interest, all the propaganda and manipulation have been for naught. When people can rely on their own knowledge and experience in forming opinions, even such a massive effort to effect change does not work. The midterm election results suggest that the U. The Alar pesticide scare of is one example. Alar was a pesticide sprayed on apples, and studies for the Environmental Protection Agency found that it caused tumors in laboratory animals that had been given high doses.
We kicked that album in the ass. By then, Fleetwood Mac had already been back at work for six months, recording the follow-up at the Record Plant in Sausalito, a half-hour drive over the Golden Gate Bridge from downtown San Francisco. But during the relentless touring of the previous year, the cracks in the Buckingham-Nicks relationship had grown to a volcanic fissure, and the McVies were also in the middle of divorce proceedings. The ever-affable and gregarious Fleetwood attempted to hold the ring, adding the roles of guidance counsellor and social worker to that of band leader.
And because there was this chaos going on with me and Lindsey, the band gave me a friend in this woman and I could hang out with Christine. The inside sleeve of Rumours symbolically shows Stevie and Christine embracing while the fatherly Fleetwood looks on. At the time, she admits she was more interested in Peter Green. She turned him down and instead wrote John a long letter explaining her feelings for him. They were married 10 days later and Christine announced in Melody Maker that she was retiring to become a housewife.
Very belligerent. I was seeing more Hyde than Jekyll. This complex web of relationships almost split the band, before Weston was sacked and the McVies agreed to give it another chance. It was either that or me ending up in a lunatic asylum.
I still worry for him, more than I would ever dare tell him. I still have a lot of love for John. He just went one step too far. One night during the tour we all got drunk together in the hotel bar after a gig and he decided to address the entire room on the subject.
When sober, he is more philosophical. At one point, the highly strung Buckingham thought of quitting.
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What would we have done — sat around in LA and tried to start new bands? Instead of quitting, Nicks, Buckingham and Christine McVie began writing songs to each other, like pages from their respective diaries. You had to feel rather sorry for John. Then Buckingham takes up the conversation again. Drug-taking was methodical when we got to LA. For me, it fitted right into the incense and candles and that stuff. And I really imagined that it could overtake everything, never thinking in a million years that it would overtake me.
It was music through chemistry. But it was helping us make the best music. Every so often, one or other member of the band would demand another hit.
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One day, engineer Ken Caillat substituted a dummy bag full of talcum powder. When it was next called for, he tipped the bag upside down and emptied the contents all over the floor. But such lighter moments were few and far between. Having spent a year making the album, the master tapes had been dragged across the machine heads a thousand times.
In those pre-digital days, this had led to a marked degradation of the sound quality, particularly at the upper end of the register, and the band had to go back into the studio in LA to redub. Initially, the group appeared oblivious to the power of what they had gone and done. Has melodic MOR soft-rock ever surged with such emotional discharge and human electricity? Has such a highly polished veneer ever been so dramatically juxtaposed with such a scalding cauldron of simmering tensions and seething passions?
What was going on between us created a resonance that goes beyond the music itself. You had these dialogues shooting back and forth about what was going down between us and we were chronicling every nuance of it. Halachic Times.
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