After the NewspapersThis is a followup to a discussion about the future of newspapers. Let's suppose that most of them collapse. I understand that a great deal of the information in newspapers...
This is a followup to a discussion about the future of newspapers. Let's suppose that most of them collapse. I understand that a great deal of the information in newspapers was "slanted," but without papers, where do you think we'll be able to get "unslanted" information? It doesn't seem to me that the Internet is a candidate --- too much "stuff" out there. Magazines. Doesn't seem like it since many of today's newmagazines are so slanted as to be propaganda.mills. TV? Radio? Will we be worse off with all this "information" than we were with just a few newspapers? What do you think?
The thing to remember about writers, whether newspaper, novelists, historian or any other, is that they are trying to convince the reader of something. I spent the first of my careers in newspapers, and yes there is always some kind of slant, either editorial or personal or political, or simply caused by a lack of time. Writing a few thousand words per day and attending meetings or rushing about chasing police/politicians/whatever does not leave much time for digging to the bottom. Of course, that is the aim of investigative reporting, but it just doesn't always happen. Still, newspapers have done the best job of what's out there. Hopefully their run isn't over, but people hardly have the time to read them anymore, or the interest. Most people are happy to get a few "facts" that support the opinion they already have.
The key is to get as much information as you can, from as many different sources. I have a fried who reads four or five papers a day, but they are all owned by the same corporation so he is not exposed to opposing viewpoints. That does not help find the "truth." Look at the sources of information, think about what axes they have to grind, balance them all out against one another, and you can over a period of time probably get a pretty good idea of what's what. You are right to be doubtful about a lot of what you read, especially on the internet.
I think that it is up to the consumer of the information to judge whether the source is reliable and worthwhile, whether the source is the internet, a newspaper, a magazine, whatever. My vote of confidence in internet sources of information is when I bookmark it for future reference.
Internet information has enjoyed the same mass appeal and mass belief in the reliability of anything in virtual print that pamphlets and newspapers once had. Eventually newspapers began identifying opinion articles as editorials. Internet sources generally do not do this. Even so, the global audience is showing signs of "wising up," as evidenced by the education of even elementary school students in how to judge the reliability of an online source.
The exciting aspect of the internet is its availability as a free resource for both generators and consumers of content. Someone who wants to put his opinion "out there" no longer has to rely on a newspaper editor to deem the copy worthy of print.
Without some kind of regulation, NOTHING will be unslanted, . . . unless the newspaper/program/magazine chooses the "no spin" approach. Two issues arise here. One is the question of who would regulate? The government? That in itself would give it a slant, in that the government always has one party in the majority. (This issue shows in the great debate over the "Fairness Doctrine" in our country.) The other issue is that even if a newspaper/program/magazine declares itself to be unbiased, there will always be those who feel that it IS biased. Take "The O'Reilly Factor," for example, whose slogan is "The Spin Stops Here." Bill O'Reilly prides himself with showing both sides, taking neither himself (for he is a registered independent); however, there are MANY who believe both him and his entire Fox News Network to be biased conservatives. Ah, the beauty of human nature. There is no perfect solution to this problem.
With or without newspapers, any conveyed information should be assumed to be slanted; the search for an objective viewpoint will be mostly futile. Be grateful if you find one!! From whatever source information comes, it's important to evaluate it critically and determine for yourself what's valid and what's garbage. The difference now is that there's many more sources, but happily, at the same time there's better tools to evaluate the information and the source!
We have to support a wide variety of opinions. Trying to "regulate" the news violates the principle of a free and unrestricted press. Educated people with common sense are able to discern and distinguish legitimate sources of news, whether those sources are online media, print media, or the local grapevine. Part of becoming an educated individual involves learning how to discern which media are reliable sources of information.
So what can we do? Should we support a wide variety of opinions (newspapers)? Should we let them go? What would be left? If an educated populace is the only thing that makes "democracy" possible, where will that education (as opposed to indoctrination) come from?
What do you think these "better tools" are? I share your earlier assertion that "the search for an objective viewpoint will be mostly futile." But we HAVE to make decisions ... is it possible that 1984 is here already?
Do you really believe we get unslanted information from newspapers? Haven't you noticed how each one has its own editorial bias?
Have you ever seen "Google Epic" --- just google it :) It's only 8 minutes, but it's frightening.
Cultural anthropology teaches us that truth is ultimately decided upon within community. We must always understand the foundation on which our "truth" is built. All reported news will come through cultural conditioning and bias. We are ignorant to think that the news as we have had it has been objectively regulated. We have the great opportunity now to hear so many more angles on events because of globalized sources, which gives us a fuller picture what is happening in our world and communities. We are certainly placing a tremendous responsibility on our systems of education to make sure our emerging generations are prepared to sift, sort and synthesize "truth" for themselves. Personally, I think it's about time.