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Monday, November 29, 2010

Griper Blade: Viewing the World Through the Media's Cracked Lens

Camera with cracked lens
I decided to take a few days off over the Thanksgiving holiday, as you might've guessed. During this time, I ran a sort of experiment. I stayed away from my usual news consumption habits. I'd say I avoided internet news entirely, but I have news feeds all over the place -- in my Gmail and my iGoogle homepage, for example -- so I saw headlines. I just didn't investigate them. As a result, probably 90% of my news consumption came from TV -- mostly network and local -- and my local paper, which has just one or two pages of national and international news and, of course, an editorial page which isn't all that good at delivering information. I say it was a "sort of experiment," because it was really just a way to step back for a bit and take a breather, but the result is the same regardless: I'm about as well-informed about recent events as the average person. Which is to say, not very. Our media is broken.

For example, I learned that North and South Korea had a little kerfuffle over an island and that the reasons for this are complex. I do understand what's going on there, but it's hard for me to say how much of my understanding comes from what I knew before I unplugged. It doesn't feel like I got a lot of information and, as always, cable news about the incident came mostly in the form of opinion, with interviews of pundits and analysts and experts. Most of that opinion was about what the US should do in response. There was very little about the North Korean government's current instability and uncertainty about their future -- or the paranoid overreactions likely to result from that instability and uncertainty.

I suppose for this experiment in wearing news blinders to be an actual experiment, I'd need to break away from my news consumption habits for a much longer period -- maybe a year or more -- which is something I'm unwilling to do. All I've really done is get a little taste of what its like to let someone else do all the legwork and all I can say conclusively is that it's a lot easier, but it sucks. I can understand why so many people believe things that aren't true. It struck me that the media is interested in reporting true things, just not the truth...[CLICK TO READ FULL POST]

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