There is a German word....mundpropaganda....which came to mind today.
It translates roughly into the English phrase of mouth propaganda.....meaning that verbally, some folks are disseminating a story that might be somewhat factual or correct, but fits more into a particular cause or agenda.
Germany has this interesting past with mundpropaganda. You see, when you go back to prior to mid 1400's...there wasn't much of a way to get information out to villages around Europe. Everyone depended on rumors, trader-stories, and traveler gossip to fill the imagination. You could have a small village of 200 Germans who have a dozen traders make their way through one summer, and every single detail of what they spoke about....whether true or false...became part of the beliefs of this village.
After the invention of the printing press....an odd thing happened. Newspapers arrived. To be honest, they didn't really start up until 1556...roughly a hundred years after the printing press was developed. The first one came out out of Venice, Italy. It was entitled "Written Notice" and simply was a logical way to convey news that had been heard and it was a fast and easy method to get everyone on the same level of understanding. Naturally, it cost some money. Capitalism was handcuffed to the idea in some fashion.
At that point, mundpropaganda was in a dying stage. Written propaganda would take off in various forms, and be part of European (and American history) for the next 350 years.
Then this odd thing would occur....radio and TV arrived. Mundpropaganda would make this comeback.
In the late 1920s....radio came to arrive in Europe and quickly became a big deal in Germany. The Nazi Party? They would figure out the great charm of mundpropaganda when attached to radio.
After WW II, TV was introduced, and it also became part of the mundpropaganda episode as well....throghout Germany, Europe, and the rest of the civilized world.
About twenty years ago....mundpropaganda started to falter and slip back a notch....mostly because of the internet, Facebook, Twitter, and digital innovation.
In the last couple of years, mundpropaganda proceeds on, but it's on a narrow slope. Young people aren't that hyped up on it, and prefer non-verbal propaganda tools to get their "dose". The mundpropaganda enthusiasts are working hard to pump up their "verbal-product" or hold back the non-verbal crowd. Fake news gets uttered now nightly on the German news, and accusations tend to be a regular piece of entertainment now.
I bring this up because I sat and watched ZDF 9:45PM news last night. The Mainz crew went topic number one....Donald Trump. I thought the NPD-Nazi Party decision by the German court was a bigger deal. The ZDF piece on Trump? It had this mundpropaganda-appeal, if you ask me.
Mundpropaganda depends a great deal on what you would call a "whispering campaign". This is where you suggest a group of things, which conveniently fit together and encourage the receiver of the info to think in the way of the presenter. This is where you tie a number of things together....which aren't really a news event...but simply comments or suggestions. In the middle of this....you throw five or six two-or-three liners in from contributing 'experts'. Distinguished so-and-so says this, and Distinguished so-and-so says that. In the end, you have a seven-minute piece of journalism, which doesn't really fit into one single product....but it served well to fit mundpropaganda.
The problem with mundpropaganda today? Generally, it doesn't matter if you look around the US or Germany....folks seem awful skeptical of mundpropaganda now. I can't say that they all got suddenly Einstein-smart, or just read the Cliff-notes on mundpropaganda....but it presents some problems and new trends.
If you have a growing crowd of skeptics who aren't buying into the mundpropaganda as they used to....where exactly do you go with this business? It was all a great scheme to proclaim fake news and bring folks along this trail. But if they seem to falter on fake news, and just not hype as much on mundpropaganda or start asking in-depth questions....well....there is not plan 'B' out there for this type of developing mess.
I noticed two years ago....out of Albania....that their broadcast folks had figured out that folks just weren't that hyped up anymore with their brand of journalism or mundpropaganda.....so they brought in some well-built gal to read the nightly news with a fairly open blouse. On the open blouse scale (one to ten)....after having seen a video of the news read....I'd give the Albanian gal a "9" out of a possible 10. For some reason, folks got back into the nightly news and seemed more interested in whatever was spoken, whether it was good journalism or mundpropaganda. It didn't matter.
I'm not a consultant to ZDF or anything, but maybe they might ask the Albanians about their methods and see if a new approach to mundpropaganda would be good idea.