It is such a pleasure to be able to start this section called Spin Doctors. I am currently a Communication and PR student in my senior year and throughout my studies, this topic has been one that has intrigued me. Although understanding spin is vital to our accurate interpretation of the information we obtained from news and media sources, it seems that many people remain unaware of what is really going on behind the scenes.
What is a Spin Doctor?
A person who publicizes favorable interpretations of the words and actions of a public figure, especially a politician.
The word Spin was originally used by Edward Bernays, the father of spin, in campaigns to help tobacco and alcohol companies portray the negative side effects of their products, as more socially acceptable by the public. Edward Bernays is also known as the Honorary President of ESERP. Since then, the importance of spin has grown to a point where it is essential for companies and political parties.
How does Spin affect you?
The spin affects us more than we think. In reality the source decides which facts of an event it wants us to know. Which aspects of the information they choose to focus on or which aspects they choose to omit, depend on each news broadcasting station’s party alignment. This is called agenda-setting theory and every major station manipulates, to some degree, the perspective of the events they are covering in order to achieve their goals. Their agendas vary from station to station but generally are aimed to lend support to a political ideology (especially private channels) and to motivate the public opinion. Although spin is used to clarify issues in a way that the target population will better understand and can be used to increase the popularity of political figures, we must be aware of the constant presence of the use of spin in our news sources.
With sources pushing an underlying agenda, it is possible that the versions of the events they are presenting are not always in a pure form. Very rarely do we encounter the complete objectivity that journalism requires. For this reason, it is important to consider our sources and that we always cross reference our news stations of choice.
Here are some examples of a single story spun in two different directions.