The Media Machine and the Individual: Tune Out and Drop In? | Nov 17 2016

Want to Really Make America Great Again? Stop Watching the News

– the Observer


“The last few months have been particularly unhappy ones for me. Not because there was anything wrong in my life; on the contrary, in my life things were going surprisingly well. The source of my misery? I was caught up in the news cycle.

I told myself it was partly my job. But the reality is, I was doing less of my job. How could it have been otherwise? I’d become consumed by a divisive, contentious, scandal driven news loop. Twitter. Google News. Apple News. Facebook. Longreads and hot takes via Instapaper. CNN. Email conversations. NPR.

It’s time we all came to terms with our compulsion:

How is anyone going to make America or themselves great again—if we’re all glued to our devices and television screens?

How can anyone maintain their sanity when everything you read, see, and hear is designed to make you stop whatever you’re doing and consume because the world is supposedly ending?

In the 1990s, political scientists coined something called the CNN Effect. The basic premise was that a world of 24-hour media coverage would have considerable impact on foreign and domestic policy. When world leaders, generals and politicians watch their actions—and the actions of their counterparts—dissected, analyzed and speculated about in real time, the argument goes, it changes what they do and how they do it…much for the worse.

When they came up with this theory, CNN was mostly a niche channel. The idea that it would soon be only a part of a vast attention-sucking ecosystem that went far beyond broadcasting 24 hours a day was inconceivable. Today, the news machine is not only dozens of cable channels, but millions of blogs, hundreds of millions of social media accounts—all of which operate in real time, creating billions of bits of content a second.

On the other end of that is another phenomenon called the narcotizing dysfunction which attempts to explain why highly informed citizens are often surprisingly inactive politically. The answer is that they confuse reading, thinking and chatting about issues (i.e “consuming”) with doing anything about them.

Both of these trends are exacerbated by the precipitous declines in advertising rates and subscriptions which have created a system that needs more and more eyeballs for longer periods of time while gutting high-quality, reliable sources of information. We have more ‘news’ but less original reporting than ever before, an order of magnitude more in the way of opinion and analysis, but as Tom Nichols has pointed out, somehow less expertise.”

…..Continue reading the fascinating and provocative article @ the Observer

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