Takeaways

This section is where you take a step back, look at the story as a whole, and consider how it might fit into the bigger picture.

First, describe any manipulative tactics you picked up on that were not included above. These might play to cognitive biases (confirmation bias, availability heuristic, etc.), they might be based on Robert Cialdini’s 6 factors of influence (or 7 if you include his new book), or they might include any other tactic that seems manipulative.

Next, summarize any facts that you find noteworthy, but did not support the thesis, so were not included above.

Then, consider the story through the lens of “follow the money”, or “cui bono” (who benefits). Why was this story produced? Was it to increase audience, to increase the loyalty of a pre-existing audience, to satisfy sponsors (for example, native advertising), to harm a competitor, to motivate a political base? Were the motivations of the author the same as the motivations for the news corporation? Summarize any thoughts you have as to why this story was produced and why it was produced in this way.

Next, consult the straw council. This is a process where you make an attempt to put yourself in the shoes of people with differing viewpoints and consider the story. Use whatever viewpoints you deem appropriate. It can be as simple as: what would a Republican say about this vs. what would a Democrat say about this. It could also be a bit more complex, where you consider the potential viewpoints of Bernie Sanders, Nancy Pelosi, Rand Paul, Mitch McConnell, Sean Hannity, Rachel Maddow, Alex Jones etc. Make up whatever straw council makes sense for you. They can be fictionalized archetypes.

Finally, describe what you think the story was engineered to accomplish. What was this news person or news organization setting out to do by producing this story. Was the goal to inform? Was it to convince? Was it something else? Note: the “follow the money” section considers why the story was produced, whereas this section considers what the goal was.