A simple twitter bot made by Russel Neiss does one thing: convert each of President Donald Trump’s tweets into the format of an official presidential statement. Here’s one where which confirms that his Executive Orders are indeed intended to be a ‘Travel Ban’ (which is odd because his own Justice Department are currently embroiled in a court case arguing that they are not).
A statement by the President: pic.twitter.com/fJTemIxD2P
— Real Press Sec. (@RealPressSecBot) June 5, 2017
This speaks to last week’s post about content shorn of attribution. How information is presented is crucial to how the message is interpreted. And tweaking the way in which something is presented might actually reveal an hypocrisy or two.
Even the typeface used in presenting a news story can have implications. Earlier this week the Guardian carried a news story about a government report into the funding of terrorist groups, which will (obviously) be read and shared by the sort of people who tend to read the Guardian.
But what if the same story were packaged differently? My hypothesis is that the above headline ‘THERESA MAY BLOCKS REPORT INTO SAUDI TERROR FUNDS’ would have a different impact, and reach different eyes, because it is set in the typeface used for Daily Mail headlines.
Here’s a bigger question: is the above headline ‘fake news’?
I have two concerns. First, it is but one interpretation of a complex and ongoing news story. It’s not wrong (by UK tabloid standards). It’s just an extremely uncharitable version of what has happened. This headline certainly doesn’t tell the whole story.
Second, the use of this particular typeface (Melior BQ Bold Condensed, if you’re interested) rather implies that the Daily Mail has covered this story, and covered it negatively. For a rabidly Tory paper to have done this would be news in itself—a signal that Mrs May had fallen out of favour. In fact, at the time of writing, they do not appear to have covered this story at all. It strikes me that some mischief could be made by sharing Guardian stories in the Daily Mail design and vice-versa.
Related idea: a fake news bot that takes a Daily Mail op-ed, flips gender or ethnicity, repackages as a Guardian op-ed.
— robertsharp59 (@robertsharp59) January 31, 2017
Related to this is my idea for ‘fixing’ the problem of newspapers printing tiny corrections to their stories. If they will not give due prominence corrections to errors, why can other people not mock-up their own tabloid front pages, giving the correction the visibility it deserves?