Patrick G Cox

"Live Editing"

Is the term I used to describe a process used by unscrupulous televised "live" broadcasts in which the producers edit the panelists words during the broadcast so that the speaker appears to be saying something damning or damaging to their presentation. At the time I started drafting the book, this wasn't possible, and to a limited extent it still isn't. However, as a recent video that went viral on certain social media sites have shown, any video can now be 'doctored' by someone with the right skills, to present a completely false picture of any personality and situation.

Imagine my surprise to have someone demonstrate this to camera on a television programme discussing just this issue. The demonstration was given by a representative of a Forensic Institute, and the audience was able to watch as he modified a video clip, quite literally putting words into the target's mouth, and removing other parts that didn't fit the desired narrative.  Naturally he didn't reveal all the features, and beyond saying that they do have ways to check for modification (as has been done in the video I mentioned above) that will reveal the manipulations -- but these are generally NOT something the average viewer would even know how to carry out even if they did suspect the fraud.

Why would anyone wish to do this? Why indeed, however, in this digital age, there are definite advantages for those with the desire to present a damaging view of an opponent. How can one reach (potentially) millions of people easily? Set up a video on an appropriate platform with the message you want to promote and the big search engines and aggregators will do the rest provided you have the right 'key words' entered for searchers- The advantage is obvious -- by presenting an opponent in the worst possible light, or perhaps twisting or corrupting their message, you undermine their campaign and potentially, their credibility. The worst of it is, of course, that by the time it is 'taken down', the false message has taken root.

So, how did I envisage this in my story? Strange as it may seem the idea had its roots in a complaint that an interview on a television show had been edited and the resulting broadcast gave a false impression of the interviewees motives and views. It struck me at the time that where a show is 'recorded' this is quite easily done, and is, in fact often done for news bulletins where a short clip is used. There is always the danger that the clip -- chosen because it grabs the attention -- can quite easuily be the only part of any longer discussion a majority hear of it. And that, taken out of any context, can leave a completely false impression in the mind of the viewer. Which brings me back to my starting point.

What would happen if an organisation wished to discredit an individual or another organisation, and had the ability to modify a live broadcast to do so? It could be extremely damaging to individuals and to organisations -- just look at how publicity can be used and people manipulated by it.

I don't want to spoil my plot or my story, but suffice it to say that such individuals and organisations do exist that do make use of these techniques. In the story (still in development), Harry Heron, Hope Transcends, Harry finds himself the target of just such an attempt.

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