Fake Media and Pseudo News Events


Daniel Boorstins novel ‘The Image’ takes a closer look at the microcosmic world of pseudo events; false events that have been created with the intention of being immediately reported on. These pseudo events have been planned far in advance and often relay information of events that haven’t yet happened. In addition to this, over time, these events have become more and more akin to a performance with heavy media coverage and scripted announcements.

A major hypernym of the pseudo-event is the ‘news leak’ or ‘indirect statement’. Boorstin discusses the significance of the ‘leak’ in new media as an axiom, something so established that it is accepted without controversy.  He suggests that leaks may be more accurately described as  “sub rosa announcements” because of the elaborate nature behind each news leak and how this is used to emit certain information. The origin of the US Presidential press office actually lies in the power of the leak.  Government officials would confidently provide covert information to particular correspondents, then media events such as press conferences would be used as a device to address leaks of information. The ambiguity of the information safeguards the source whilst adding an intrigue that reporters and audiences cannot turn down.

Todays pseudo-events are refined public relations exercises that practice strategic communication to create impenetrable packages of synthetic news. The anticipation and execution of these events draws in media coverage and encourages wide spread discussion. In a sense this may be positive, the public are more aware of happenings in government than ever before, however, with this inundation of news, we are lead to question how much of the content is genuine and how much is contrived. A major example of this is when in 2012, US Business creamsicle Donald Trump endorsed fellow republican Mitt Romney after previously heavily criticising his business acumen and presidential campaign.

The video can be viewed here, on Huffington Post.

We must sift through mass media events, press releases and conferences in order to make our judgement on a particular topic. Even after this, we can never be sure that the information provided to us hasn’t been used as a device to maliciously deceive or cover up other goings on.

It can be difficult to remember that all of this content has been created by those working industriously in respectable jobs all with the intention to inform in one way or another. We are being fed our daily bread in bite-sized pseudo pieces, we rely on it and we demand it and because of this, the pseudo-event both helps and hinders us.

As Boorstin shares with us in his novel: “The efficient mass production of pseudo events in all kinds of packages, in black and white, in technicolor, in words, and in thousands of other forms -is the work of the whole machinery of our society”