I am fortunate to work with a bunch of fun subversive malcontents who, in every affront to good office etiquette and order, avail themselves of every opportunity to start debates on topics pretty much guaranteed to ensure promotional advancement is a thing for those other guys down the hall. Politics, religion, social issues, liberal vs conservative viewpoints, and a lingering suspicion that the bosses wife was, at one point, a guy…it’s all fair game.
I learned pretty quickly during these debates that I was “that guy”. You know who I mean. The most uniformed yet opinionated guy in the room. In any debate, “that guy” is destined to be the loser. That was several years ago and while I am still waiting for that promotion (I’m sure it’s only a matter of time until my genius is recognized by all), I am no longer the guy always losing the battle of ideas. I don’t want you to be either so lets examine how me can squeeze some truth out of the news media.
What role do you believe the news business plays in America today? Is it to inform the public? Serve as a watchdog against government abuse and fraud? To act as a public trust on our behalf? All noble goals to be sure, however the sad truth is the news media crossed the line between pure journalism and entertainment a long time ago. Now the major media networks are strictly a business endeavour with their news products tailored to meet consumer expectations within specifically targeted demographics.
A news networks authority, once derived by the trust placed in them by the public to maintain certain standards of ethical journalism, is now gained primarily through their ability to manipulate public opinion in support of their chosen narrative. In other words, your preferred news source is perceived by you to be a credible and knowledgable authority because they validate and support your own personal worldview instead of challenging it. As the saying goes, “birds of a feather flock together”, so you naturally gravitate to the network which reflects your own personal biases.
If you are to have any hope of independently formulating an opinion on an issue, you have got to unplug yourself from your favorite news network. You want to become a critical consumer of the news. Don’t simply accept the narrative and conclusions provided as the truth. Just use this as a basis for starting your own inquiry into topics which interest you. Realize there are absolutely no shortcuts to be had and a totally unbiased news source simply does not exist.
You mean to tell me I have to channel-surf all the networks everyday and analyze all those opinions? If you’re a news junkie, have at it! Or you can follow my little system which you’ll find to be much less time-consuming.
Start today by picking one topic which interests you. The debt ceiling, the fiscal cliff, immigration, our foreign policy towards Egypt…take your pick. This week as you find the time, go online and read everything you can find on that one topic from left-wing sources, right-wing sources and foreign sources. You might give MediaCloud.org a try if you want to find a quick rundown of various opinions all in one place. Ignore all reports on this topic from your old media favorite this week. Realize that whats not said is often as important, if not more important, than what is. An article from Breitbart demonstrates an example of this where CNN did not report on their own Obamacare poll when results ran contrary to their efforts to shape public opinion in a desired direction. Networks often cherry pick which facts to present in this manner and knowing that is the difference between being informed and misinformed.
I think you’ll find you start to notice many manipulative efforts by the media to shape your opinions that didn’t consciously register before you started this exercise. If you are really paying attention you might even begin to feel a little like Neo in the Matrix once he finally woke up in the real world.
Right now I’m working on a “viewer’s guide” to the media networks. My goal is to show you the little tricks the media uses in their campaign to influence your opinions. I hope it will serve as a reference as you play your new role as a critical news consumer. Until then, try my little suggestions and give me some feedback on your own experiences.
- Fox News Website “Bias Alert” Is Not Only Biased, But Ironic? (newshounds.us)
- Playing It Straight (personalliberty.com)
- The Massive Power of the Alternative Media (zen-haven.com)