My favourite quote these days
I recently came across this quote:
“The press may not be successful most of the time in telling people what to think, but it is stunningly successful in telling them what to think about.”
- Bernard Cohen
This is called the Agenda Setting Theory, which basically describes the ability of the news media to influence the importance of topics in the minds of the public. So, the world looks different to different people depending on the map that is drawn for them by writers, editors, and publishers of the paper they read.
These words profoundly changed how I look at news or interpret it. In this world, every media house has an agenda and a story to tell, and we are just the consumers. The more the media repeats a topic, the more important it seems to appear, but is it? Most of the times, no. But, we can’t gauge this. We are just happy with our half an hour of daily news updates, and we form our opinions out of that.
Were the leaked Hillary emails that important? No, but they were made to feel so. Is the issue of climate change very important? Yes, but I haven’t seen it been covered apart from when the whole world gets together once in 3–4 years. Do you know about National Geographic’s “Before the Flood”? Many wouldn’t. That’s the harsh truth.
As humans usually do, we then start defending our thoughts. Be it right or wrong, we need to win. So, we start debating, defending the topic the media had seemingly made us feel was important. And voila, task accomplished.
Obviously everyone won’t change. But, we can atleast try to gauge ourselves how important something is. Don’t fall for the media’s trap. Try to read opposing arguments. Try to become better news readers. :)
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