The Seven Deadly Spins

(From the Website

We consider these the cardinal transgressions. The ones that poison the cool, clear drinking water of democracy. The neat thing about SpinSpotter is the ability to filter and identify the presence of spin in any news article, web site, press release, or thinly disguised political talk sheet.

Reporter’s Voice

Definition: The reporter employs language (in the form of adjectives, adverbs, verbs, or superlatives) that conveys meaning beyond the supporting evidence provided in the article, and begs the question: In whose opinion and by what objective standard?

Example: In the most hotly debated (superlative) campaign in years, Senator Obama delivered a soaring, inspirational (adjective) speech, while Senator John McCain, slowly (adverb) responded with a far less-eloquent (adjective) address, as he mightily (adverb) struggled (verb) to find a clear voice for his so-called "straight talk express."

Inaccurate Information

Definition: The reporter states something that is factually incorrect or misleading.

Example: The Artic National Wildlife REfuge (ANWAR) has the capacity to prodeuct 25% of the oil consumed in the U.S. each day. (SpinSpotter context: According to U.S. DOE estimates, ANWAR production would peak at 2%-7% of the oil consumed in the U.S. each day.)

Passive Voice

Definition: The reporter employs language in which the subject of the sentence receives the action instead of performing the action; often used as a way to avoid drawing attention to the person or entity that performed the action, and leaving the reader to ask, “Who did that?”

Example: Five people were killed by rockets in Israel last night.

Biased Source

Definition: The reporter quotes a source that has a definable point of view, or works for an organization with a clear point of view, but the reporter does not disclose the source’s view or affiliations.

Example: Filmmaker and political analyst Michael Moore, a registered independent, says Senator John McCain represents a “third Bush term.”

Disregarded Context

Definition: The reporter places emphasis on one part of an event without giving equal weight to the full aspect of what happened.

Example: Senator John McCain received a glowing welcome from a massive crowd, estimated at over 70,000 people. (SpinSpotter context: Senator McCain's speech followed a free concert by Carrie Underwood, Shania Twain, and Kid Rock.)

Selective Disclosure

Definition: The reporter fails to mention a critical element of the story.

Example: Seven Die in Church Shooting: A lone gunman shot and killed six worshippers in a local church before turning the gun on himself. (SPINSPOTTER disclosure: A retired police officer shot the gunman before the gunman killed himself.)

Lack of Balance

Definition: The reporter fails to give equal voice to both sides, or all sides, of a controversial story.

Example: A reporter reprints, in whole or in part, a press release (a packaged announcement from a political campaign, corporation, or advocacy group) as if it were a news story, or fails to sufficiently validate and/or edit a press release before using it as the basis for a news story.

From the website:


Much of the information that the public receives about issues and events is received through media messages – in newspapers and magazines, on television and radio, and on the Internet. Analysis

of media messages is a valuable component of courses, and allows

students to think critically and independently about issues that affect them.

The following concepts of media education are examples of the ways in which teachers and students can examine a range of media messages:

Purpose: People use media messages to inform, entertain, and/or

persuade for political, commercial, educational, artistic, moral, and/

or other purposes.

Values: Media messages communicate explicit and implicit values.

Representation: Media messages are constructed; they are only

representations of real or imaginary worlds.

Codes, Conventions, and Characteristics: Each medium has its own set of codes, conventions, and characteristics that affect the way

messages are transmitted and understood.

Production: People who understand the media are better able to make purposeful media messages.

Interpretation: Audience members bring their knowledge, experience, and values to their interpretation of and emotional response to media messages.

Influence of Media on Audience: Media messages can influence

people’s attitudes, behaviours, and values.

Influence of Audience on Media: People can influence media

institutions and the messages they produce and transmit.

• Control: People who control a society’s dominant institutions have

disproportionate influence on the construction and distribution of

media messages and the values they contain.

• Scope: Media technologies influence and are influenced by the

political, economic, social, and intellectual dimensions of societies.