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SPIN versus Authenticity and Credibility

SPIN versus Authenticity and Credibility

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Published by terrygault
"Dishonesty is sanitized in a world of spin."
"Dishonesty is sanitized in a world of spin."

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Published by: terrygault on Apr 14, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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"Dishonesty is sanitized in a world of spin." The title of this Leonard Pitts’ column, written for the
in 2007, tells us what we probably already know: thatwhat we see (and what we hear) in today’s world is notnecessarily what we get. Because on the other side of honesty weoften find "spin."When you decide on which words and facts to use tocommunicate with others, do you make a practice of incorporating the techniques of "spin"? Most likely not – unlessthis is how you want to be known. As a "spin doctor.""Spin": Not giving out blatantly dishonest information, butcommunicating information with a very strong bias, a bias thatfavors the speaker or the situation. It’s a manipulative techniquethat no doubt most of us are familiar with today -- one whichseldom involves authenticity. When "spin" is used, some factsmay be correct, but placed outside the original context and insidea presentation meant to sway the public, the result is notnecessarily authentic or credible.In a recent Liz Kelly column in the Washington Post, she spells itout for us: "Pay close attention to what comes out of the mouthsof celebrities. They may not always mean what they say. Theyprobably didn’t actually come up with these words (remember,most are paid performers) and in most cases their utterances –whether on Entertainment Tonight or surrounded by salt-of-the-earth villagers in Namibia – are calculated to add value to theirbrand. Imagine them henceforth very carefully manipulated by anable band of helpers."So when did "spin" begin?Since the early 1800s, "spinning a yarn" has simply meant tellinga story. Then, around the 1980s, American publicists found aneed to create "sound bites." From The New York Times, October1984: "A dozen men in good suits and women in silk dresses willcirculate smoothly among the reporters, spouting confidentopinions. They won’t be just press agents trying to impart afavorable spin to a routine release. They’ll be the Spin Doctors,
senior advisers to the candidates." And, as we certainly know bynow, the White House "Spin Doctors" are the best at weaving thepolitical fantasies they want us to hear and creating responseswith "sincere" solutions to enemies and disasters to allay ourconcerns.Why is "spin" so predominant in today’s political and celebrity-obsessed climate? Is there a cadre of diabolical public relationspeople, strategically placing euphemisms, non-denial denials andother intricately placed band-aids (to cover mistakes) and bits intheir candidate’s or client’s speech? Is it the media’s fault, withthe press constantly shoving microphones into the faces of politicians and celebrities, and demanding answers? Or shouldwe, the public, take partial responsibility – due to an attentionspan that grows shorter and shorter as excess information spillsin and out of our already-cluttered minds.How would we even recognize authenticity and credibility today if we met it? Or, knowing that "spin" is so often woven throughspeeches and press-releases, have we become cynical, world-weary and believe nothing?In business, at least, we find a growing trend of honesty today,called transparency, the result largely due to today’s technology.It has just simply become more and more difficult to put one overon the public. Mistakes revealed on the internet or TV can placecorporations in jeopardy. This public exposure forces them to ownup, apologize and improve. Gilmore and Pine, in their recentbook,
 Authenticity: What Customers Really Want 
, put forth thethesis that businesses need to address the problem of managing"...the perceptions of real or fake held by the consumer’s of [an]enterprises’s output – because people increasingly makepurchase decisions based on how real or fake they perceiveofferings."So maybe instead of world-weary and cynical, the public (us) isbecoming wiser and beginning to crave authenticity instead of "spin." Wanting to believe but still remaining cautious beforebuying into the message or the product. An
review (11-14-07) review of the
book concurs: "...people cravegenuine and authentic product experiences in a world that isincreasingly commercialized and fake."

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