The Media and Manufactured Outrage

Brook Zimmatore | December 10, 2020

Manufacturing outrage is something the media has been practicing for decades. Unfortunately, with the lightning-fast communications technologies they have access to today, irresponsible media outlets rush to garner attention by any means necessary. One of their most underhanded techniques is aptly termed “outrage media,” and it can create viral scandals out of whole cloth almost overnight.

Coined in 2009, the term “outrage media” refers to any media designed to evoke a strong backlash, particularly for the sake of getting online traffic. Anger is an emotion that drives a person to act, and for most of today’s Internet Warriors, that consists of leaving an angry comment or sharing a post.

This is exacerbated by boredom, with social media users constantly chasing the high of the next controversy. Interacting with a media story through clicks, posts, retweets, or shares happens to be among the most lucrative behaviors for media outlets, which receive more ad revenue.

The result is a never-ending arms race to come up with the most salacious, outrageous, and anger-inducing story, and if a story isn’t really that controversial, don’t worry — the media will make it so, and no brand is safe. Taking a few of the most outrageous Tweets and presenting them as a representation of the average American’s view, the media can use even the most benign story to shape public opinion and make anyone the target of their faithful followers. And all for the sake of some clicks (and ad dollars).

There’s some fascinating research on the subject, but that doesn’t help today’s victim of the latest manufactured outrage. Taking care to act ethically can take a company far, but that’s a weak defense against lies and a public primed and ready to spring into enraged typing on their keyboard. New strategies for dealing with the most toxic aspects of social media are required.

Putting together a comprehensive crisis management plan is an absolute must in this day and age because waiting until the outrage happens is far too late. If you need help building a plan, Massive Alliance is an expert who has helped dozens of brands with their reputation management. Don’t wait; reach out today.

CEO / Co-Founder
Brook Zimmatore is the Co-Founder & CEO at Massive. You can reach him directly at bz[at]massivealliance.com.