When it comes to delivering news to intended audiences, simply telling a story may not be enough of a hook to grab their attention. In a media landscape that gets more crowded with each passing day, this approach demands having pictures or video of such news in order to allegedly prove the validity of what may be compelling information. In some cases, simply having audio can properly serve that role.

In all of these instances, the ability to fabricate a fictional story and present it as the truth should always be a potential concern before whatever media platform decides to present it. Such an approach can help avoid the embarrassment that comes when certain stories turn out to be the work of someone seeking to push a certain agenda or simply toy with the media for mischievous purposes.

Using voice-changing softwares to create personas

For radio purposes and even some television considerations, an ethically challenged news director can see an anonymous voice as a ticket to higher ratings. That means more revenue flowing into a network or station’s coffers.
In many ways, that can lead to a scandal similar to the one that rocked print journalism during the early 1980’s. That case involved Janet Cooke, who was then working for the Washington Post and wrote a riveting story of an eight-year-old heroin addict named Jimmy, a story that was complete fiction.
The following year, Cooke was awarded the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for her effort. Just days later, her biographical notes were shown to be inflated and caused the hoax to emerge.

Janet Cooke
Janet Cooke at Washington Post

From an audio perspective, a contemporary journalist could fashion a similar story and use voice-changing software on their own to present himself or herself as an affected child or someone from the opposite gender. While the possibility of further research on the part of enterprising individuals can eventually lead to the same situation as Cooke’s, some journalists may believe that such an effort is less likely in an era of tighter budgets.

Staged photos for more impactful news

The concept of staged photos doesn’t necessarily translate into ones that have been edited; yet they bring with them the same level of disdain. It is mostly because they serve as a blatant misrepresentation of events that are supposed to be captured spontaneously.

Khaled Al Sabbah's staged photo in Bruxelles
Khaled Al Sabbah’s staged photo in Bruxelles

One of the more recent examples of this egregious practice came just one day after the terrorist attacks in Brussels in March 2016. In this instance, a live report near the scene of the attacks was being presented. Meanwhile, the background clearly showed a Palestinian photographer directing a young girl to place an item at a makeshift memorial for the victims.

Khaled Al Sabbah was the 21-year-old photographer orchestrating the picture. After originally placing on social media, he removed it after receiving criticism for staging the image.

The perfect combination of editing tools can change history

Adobe, which revolutionized photo editing by creating Photoshop, is now on the verge of breaking new ground when it comes to audio aspects. The software, which hasn’t been commercially released and is now only known as VoCo, can actually add words that weren’t originally spoken and have it sound the same as the person’s voice.
Perhaps the most shocking part of this is that it will only require the editor to type in whatever words that editor decides to use. That skill is much more common than the visual aspect of Photoshop, which can come across as an amateur effort if the person doing the photo editing lacks certain artistic skills.

Combining that with face capture software that allows for real time manipulation can literally put words in people’s mouths. That allows for someone to say the most hateful things and use video to present it as an actual news story.

Reality manipulation to gain in public interest.
Reality manipulation to gain in public interest.

Being a victim of vicious media campaigns

In 2016, even the most casual remark can become a media maelstrom, with such technologies having the potential to ruin someone’s career overnight. What’s worse is that the victim must try and defend themselves against video that has what virtually everyone familiar with them believes sounds like their voice.
Vicious media campaigns in any aspect of politics often use someone’s words against them, which used to only mean taking a remark out of context. In this instance, the victim of this attack has essentially become a puppet of whoever is in charge of the attack.

Playing With Fire

Three separate 24-hour news channels and video outlets such as You Tube currently exist, with the particular political leanings of that entity sometimes guiding the decision-making process.
The ability to change reality is an area that all news organizations should never enter; yet for some, the idea is either too easy or lucrative to pass up. The ultimate loser is the general public that expects more.