Day 25: Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics (4/7 on Donald Trump)

I’d like to talk about “the media,” a.k.a White House Public Enemy #1.

I think everyone I’ve spoken to, regardless of political perspective, have expressed to me some version of this sentiment: “It’s the media’s fault.”

I smile politely while a sliver of my soul withers away.

First, the word media is plural for medium, implying multiple modes of communication, including this … Medium. (I couldn’t help myself.) Not only do the modes vary, but so do its producers, opinions, and stakeholders.

Yet when we go after “the media,” we’re selective about our critique. For example, generally among the cable news circuit, liberals will target Fox News, conservatives attack CNN, and MSNBC’s just happy to be nominated. (Just teasing, MSNBC.)

What we’re all really saying: your medium is illegitimate because you don’t fit my worldview, and and I will not tolerate you or your work.

We’re not interested in truth in the media.
We’re just here to validate our sentiments.

That is the current service of the “the media”, with its efficacy measured by engagement over education. Media companies obsess over ratings, clickthroughs, downloads, views, responses, upvotes, likes, favorites, shares — they want to know if you’re interacting, not enlightened.

Unfortunately, media companies don’t measure comprehension, elaboration, critical thinking, inquiry, creativity, empathy, compassion, or intelligence. The correlation between a well-crafted article and its educational or social impact is inferred but far from thoroughly understood.

In my view (and you’re not going to like it): it’s capitalism.

I submit the following video and other works on this topic to consider. I’m not saying anything original here, but now we’re coming to a head.

When the name of the game (mass media capitalism) is to do X (sensationalism) in order to drive $ (profit) at the expense of Y (education) and Z (civility), then we shouldn’t be so surprised by how we got to this point.

How do we break out of this cycle? That’s like asking if you can change the rules of a board game that never seems to end. However, there are plenty of media who don’t play by the same rules ascribed above and devote themselves to true integrity and the pursuit of quality journalism.

Can you name them? Are they the same as someone with a different view?

The point is that uplifting the pathetic state of mass media requires a deliberate effort and an open mind from the consumer as well as a duty to veracity from the producer against these inclinations. That’s a different game entirely, but we can do it … if we just decide to.

It’s time to burst the bubbles.

-Lee

PS: Join my MoveOn.org petition to see if our president will engage in a boxing match with Robert DeNiro for charity. Sign up here.