The Startup
Published in

The Startup

Stop Trusting the Media!

Advertising is a billion $ a year industry. Make no mistake — money is made and people are being brainwashed. Let’s stop it by spreading positively open-minded discourse that is based on actual curiosity and a willingness to listen.

The Statistics About ADS

  • the average person will see around 3,000 commercials a day (includes radio, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, News, TV, etc.)
  • by the age of 25, the average person will see 2 million ads
  • 1 hour of TV programs is 25–30% advertising

The Canadian-born economist, John Kenneth Galbraith, says that in theory democracies should be free to create advertisements as they like, since the freedom of the law allows freedom of speech & expression.

In practice, however, as with most cases, business create a monopoly on media and ads, because it is a high source of revenue.

People are promised happiness if they buy certain produce, they are promised the ‘American Dream’ if they work hard and buy the “right” things.

Persuasion vs. Manipulation

Companies figured out that persuading people to buy their produce is an ineffective method. What seems to work much better is to force people into buying your produce by subjecting you to deliberate subconscious manipulation.

Consider Coca Cola and how they started using the “passionate” color red on all their bottles, cans, and trucks. Or how Pepsi used Kendall Jenner in a commercial when African American individuals were put into the spotlight for being mistreated by law enforcement in America. Or consider using sex in commercials. You get the idea. It’s blatantly obvious.

Galbraith concludes that the media is creating a distortion of wants & needs. They are creating them rather than supplying to our natural desires.

Free markets + advertising = an economic system no longer in syn with democracy.

Why Persuasion is a Difficult Method of Advertising

We have all experienced this in different forms throughout our lives.

Recently I have been called racist for defending Sam Harris on Twitter, because he has been accused of being racist for criticizing Islam, among other things.

One realizes how difficult it is to persuade someone of an opinion, especially when you cannot see the person or interact with them face-to-face.

Imagine how much more difficult it is to sell a product to you if the seller does not know if you even see the ads.

CNN & Fox News have been fighting ideological wars throughout the years for similar reasons. They are fighting the problems one faces when dealing with an audience that is not seen and more massive than anyone has ever encountered in the history of our species.

How the News Makes Money & Keeps Viewers

There are two clear ways that News outlets bring back viewers:

  1. Comfort
  2. Excitement


If you agree with an opinion naturally (for reasons that cognitive psychologists such as Jonathan Haidt helpfully discuss elsewhere), you do not have to apply any critical thinking in order to disprove your opinion.

If you are, on the other hand, listening to the News and encounter views you disagree with, it requires mental effort to find answers and reasons why the interviewee is incorrect.

We require “low” evidence for opinions we agree with and “high” evidence for those that what we disagree with.


During the CNNs coverage of the Iraq War, CNN was receiving millions of views and hence benefiting by receiving incredible sums of money from advertising and sponsors.

The same applies to Trump’s presidency. The more CNN covers Trump, the more viewers they have. They cannot report on things that matter because those are not necessarily things that are being watched.

Consider Beme News on YouTube.

Here’s the last 4 videos they made:

  • Growing Up in Baltimore’s Most Dangerous (About Racism)
  • Everyone is Wrong About Marijuana
  • Do These Pills Make You Smarter?
  • America’s AI (Artificial Intelligence)War With China

Their reporting is actually decent and does not include name-calling and an overt focus on Trump (or hysteria news). The average people are turning to these types of News outlets because of their down-to-earth nature and their unbiased appeal (unbiased in the sense of lack of political sponsors and parties). Beme is an exception because I believe they are currently still owned by CNN, but production seems to have little control from the main management of the company.

Small Media Corporations vs. Large Media Corporations

CNN & Fox News are large media outlets that employ a lot of people. In effect they are, then, large corporations.

Large corporations have a duty to maximize profits in order to provide money back to sponsors, shareholders, and to realize the American Dream for the CEOs and COOs of the company.


it is entirely reasonable to suppose that most large media companies think that profit outweighs truth.

In the process they are brain-washing the average Joe and Sally to think less critically, confirm biases, promote bigotry, and continue to polarize the Country (& indirectly the world).

Which then only leads to further racism, ignorance, and lack of open-minded discourse that we desperately need in democratic societies.

STOP WATCHING THE NEWS. If you have let me know what podcasts you listen to, or YouTube channels, that are providing alternative sources. It’s good to be wary of those as well by the way ;) — that’s for another blog post.

P.S. I have been taking a mini-hiatus from Medium due to finals. It’s going well! It starts tomorrow (Friday) and continues to Tuesday. Four finals in five days. I plan on publishing stories almost daily afterwards!


Before you go…

🗣Connect with Me on Twitter, or Instagram.

AND If you found this article helpful, click the

button below (remember it can go up to 50 claps — it helps me a lot if you’re generous with that clap button ;) ) or share the article on Facebook/TWITTER if you want your friends to benefit from it in some way at all.

I write to keep you thinking and to keep me thankful and reflective. Cheers cheers cheers and until next time,

keep reflecting.

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by 318,120+ people.

Subscribe to receive our top stories here.



Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +768K followers.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Jakub Ferencik

Author of “Up in the Air” & “Beyond Reason” available on AMAZON | MA McGill Uni | Research assistant for EUROPEUM Prague | 550+ blog posts with 1+ mil. views