Wednesday, December 7, 2016

how come you dance so good

"There is no excuse for writers to repeat politically motivated myths as if they were facts."

~~  Ken Hughes, Chasing Shadows, 2014

"You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts."

~~  Daniel Patrick Moynihan, U.S. Senator from New York State, 1976 - 2000


A Study and Mild Critique of New Media, (continued)...

Yesterday here we began considering, examining, and questioning some types of media products which are offered as "news" -- then today, we open the New York Times, and there's a story by Sabrina Tavernise headlined, "In News, What's Fake and What's Real Can Depend on What You Want to Believe."

The slug line says, "Fake news has become a partisan tool, but people differ widely on their ability to discern what is real and what is fabrication."


I think I would call the recent epidemic of "fake news" Level 2 of Information Corruption; Level 1 was when News-reporting's first priority

ceased to be

Telling What Happened (who, what, when, where, why, and how)

and became

Getting the Most Clicks.

--------------------------- [excerpt / The Audacity of Hope] ---------------------- The media's influence on our politics comes in many forms.  What gets the most attention these days is the growth of an unabashedly partisan press:  talk radio, Fox News, newspaper editorialists, the cable talk-show circuit, and most recently the bloggers, all of them trading insults, accusations, gossip, and innuendo twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. 

As others have noted, this style of opinion journalism isn't really new; in some ways, it marks a return to the dominant tradition of American journalism, an approach to the news that was nurtured by publishers like William Randolph Hearst and Colonel McCormick

["experience {news} viscerally as an ongoing drama, with distinct story lines, heroes, and villains"]

before a more antiseptic notion of objective journalism emerged after World War II.

Still, it's hard to deny that all the sound and fury, magnified through television and the Internet, coarsens the political culture.  It makes tempers flare, helps breed distrust.  And whether we politicians like to admit it or not, the constant vitriol can wear on the spirit. ...

In an environment in which a single ill-considered remark can generate more bad publicity than years of ill-considered policies, it should have come as no surprise to me that on Capitol Hill jokes got screened, irony became suspect, spontaneity was frowned upon, and passion was considered downright dangerous....

...A more subtle and corrosive aspect of modern media -- how a particular narrative, repeated over and over again and hurled through cyberspace at the speed of light, eventually becomes a hard particle of reality; how political caricatures and nuggets of conventional wisdom lodge themselves in our brain without us ever taking the time to examine them.

..."Spin" works...precisely because the media itself is hospitable to spin.  Every reporter in Washington is working under pressures imposed by editors and producers, who in turn are answering to publishers or network executives, who in turn are poring over last week's ratings or last year's circulation figures and trying to survive the growing preference for PlayStation and reality TV. 

To make the deadline, to maintain market share and feed the cable news beast, reporters start to move in packs, working off the same news releases, the same set pieces, the same stock figures. 

...For busy and therefore casual news consumers, a well-worn narrative is not entirely unwelcome.  It makes few demands on our thought or time....Accepting spin is easier on everybody.

This element of convenience also helps explain why, even among the most scrupulous reporters, objectivity often means publishing the talking points of different sides of a debate without any perspective on which side might actually be right....

...After a few paragraphs, the reader can conclude that Republicans and Democrats are just bickering again and turn to the sports page, where the story line is less predictable and the box score tells you who won.

Indeed, part of what makes the juxtaposition of competing press releases so alluring to reporters is that it feeds that old journalistic standby -- personal conflict. 

It's hard to deny that political civility has declined in the past decade, and that the parties differ sharply on major policy issues. 

But at least some of the decline in civility arises from the fact that, from the press's perspective, civility is boring. 

Your quote doesn't run if you say, "I see the other guy's point of view" or "The issue's really complicated."  Go on the attack, though, and you can barely fight off the cameras....

...We have no authoritative figure, no Walter Cronkite

or Edward R. Murrow

whom we all listen to and trust to sort out contradictory claims.  Instead, the media is splintered into a thousand fragments, each with its own version of reality

...Depending on your viewing preferences, global climate change is or is not dangerously accelerating; the budget deficit is going down or going up. ...

...Today's politician understands this.  He may not lie, but he understands that there is no great reward in store for those who speak the truth, particularly when the truth may be complicated.  The truth may cause  consternation; the truth will be attacked; the media won't have the patience to sort out all the facts.... ---------------------------------- [end, excerpt:  The Audacity Of Hope, by Barack Obama.  2006.  Three Rivers Press, New York] ----------------------------- 


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