angstzeit: (Eye1)
[personal profile] angstzeit
I'm a bit confused by people's complaints about the media. I hear a lot of unhappiness with the mainstream media being run essentially as an entertainment vehicle rather than a journalistic one. And I agree that especially the 24 hour TV news channels aim more for the sensational than the educational. Investigative journalism has been largely replaced with the speculation of pundits and shoving a microphone in random citizens' faces for commentary.

But then I hear this other complaint, "the media is ignoring _______." Occasionally, the media really is ignoring something, but most of the time, by "ignoring," people mean it isn't getting the "entertainment" coverage. The media is covering the story, just not over-hyping it. It's weird. We hate the superficial, sensational news coverage, but we complain when the stories we think are important don't get it.

Personally, I'm quite happy those stories don't get that kind of coverage. I think there's a lot of things, terrorism is an obvious one, that are made much worse by sensationalism. It is rare that a large-scale emotional reaction to a news story is better than a low-key reasoned one. Unfortunately, I think I'm in a shrinking group with that thinking. We've come to see over-the-top emotion as the proper response to "threats" in the news. Reasoned analysis seems, well, like ignoring something.

Date: 2015-01-14 06:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
True all that, isn't always the same group complaining. People who are ok with the amount and type of coverage the news media are giving something, rarely speak up to say so.

I think our news gathering and distribution system is fundamentally broken, and there is objective, empirical evidence for this. For example, asking people what they think their risk of dying from cause X shows that most people are off by orders of magnitude. For example, the risk of dying from a terrorist attack vs. the risk of dying in a car wreck.

Now some of this is cause, not effect; the things we are predisposed to pay too much attention to, are the things which we both overestimate the likelihood of and also pay newsmedia to tell us about. But, exposure to the news media coverage of something makes us think of it as more likely than things we never hear about.

So, I think the "reasoned analysis" needed is at step 1, designing how news gathering and distribution should work. But, I have no idea how to get the resources to do that.

Date: 2015-01-15 01:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I don't see how news can ever function properly as a money-making venture. Telling people what they want to hear will always outsell telling them what they need to hear.

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