Rumour in Politics
A rumor, is a “sob story of interpretations of events relating to an item, situation, or subject in public interest which are held up to ridicule.” Some common rumors include: rumors about landing on the moon, flying to outer space, receiving a telephone call from “The Firm,” living in a small apartment, being the center of ” celeb gossip,” and so on. The “sob story” became popular with the advent of the media and now rumors are entertained by millions worldwide. These rumors are usually spread through word of mouth, e-mails, newsgroup browsing, chat rooms, bulletin boards, and others.
Rumors have been used throughout history to frighten opponents into keeping quiet, hide information, and hide truths. Rumours are not only used for political purposes; they are used to justify war, incite murder, and even criminal activity. Even today, some rumours are used as weapons of warfare. Rumours are often used to attack another person (or organisation) and their ideas. Propaganda can be defined as “the spreading of false rumours intended to falsify or influence public opinion.”
In business and marketing, a “rumour bomb” strategy can be very effective. You may want to take a risk and create controversy. However, you must be careful how you go about it. By creating and distributing a “rumour bomb” you are asking to be blown out of your own water. The following techniques can be applied to eliminate or change the spread of gossip and rumours.
Firstly, it is important to understand the difference between news, commentary and rumour. News reporting is factual and neutral; it reports events that have happened. It does not necessarily suggest that these events may have a causal relationship to other events or people. Commentary on the same subject, often taking the form of an article, is more subjective in its content and arguably more manipulative because it is not based on fact.
Secondly, there is the question of intent. If someone is making a comment on the subject matter of a news report but they are not commenting on the facts of the story, this can be considered newsworthy. A simple rumour bomb aimed at those who are reading an article on the subject will only serve to change the focus of the article and make it less interesting. Conversely, if someone is commenting on the veracity of an article it is not an attempt to change the truth of the event or even the veracity of the information contained therein. The person commenting on the rumour will simply be expressing their personal opinion about the veracity of the information in the article.
Rumours have a significant place in politics. They have a powerful effect on public opinion, especially when they become part of the everyday culture of a country. However, effective management of rumour requires a deeper understanding of social cognition and the role that emotions play in influencing social cognition. By being able to understand these dimensions of rumour it becomes possible for managers to successfully manage Rumour in Politics.