Ep 14: Sensationalist media: Are your children safe?

welcome one and all to Professor Metal’s irate debate and calamitous commentary with the philosophical chain gang. Today’s episode is sensationalist media; Are your children safe? I’m your host Professor Metal on river actual grace. You know I’ve had this looming sense of dread lately looming drove me to look at all school living that twenty four seven these days. Well that’s a perfectly valid response to being locked in the little oratory. I’ll make it a point to tell the looming dread to back up just a little bit. Well that would be nice. Oh absolutely. So something most media there’s a lot of little lord of you plea all of it. Oh you’ve got to get those views somehow the viewership bowlers would have you there and that does bring us to a very interesting point about sensationalist media the point at which we see the rise of sensationalist media is really the same point at which news becomes entertainment product something to be made money on. Back in the day they used to lose you a significant amount of money but the money that you lost on that was considered public affairs money you gave that to the public for the right to use the airwaves. That was the exchange. It involved in being a public broadcaster. When that changed when the public interest standard was removed. Television news became a commodify of all things something you expected to make money on. And if you’re going to make money on it you have to constantly be scrambling for new viewers and more numbers and the higher ratings to give advertisers in order to make a dollar. There are just three channels in the world. You know when there are just three channels there were best practices there were standards for journalism that they agree on and no one of those three heated for the fear of seeming irresponsible. Wish being a responsible corporate citizen was the entire point of doing journalism in the first place as you just pointed out in a has to do with that choke point because I think the first role of journalism is to act as a gatekeeper say here’s what’s important is that you should know about in the world when there’s a few of them they can do that. You don’t really have a lot of other options unless you’re going around just counterculture. But with the opening up of choices with so much cable to cable news and the internet and various other platforms of getting news the ability of news to be a gatekeeper Droste because we can choose where we’re going to get the news from so we’re going to go to whatever news we want to see results selecting it. I definitely think there are some problems inherent in that list. Some people just look for news that favors them that their ideas of the world. Any direction you look there are news outlets that kind of cater to a specific type of person and people will generally gravitate more towards that outlet that anything else. But even then if there are multiple outlets that kind of go for the same person you see this sort of not necessarily sensationalist arms race but something very similar where where they’re trying. Give me the most in your face you have the most exciting news honestly with how we get information become so fragmented into bite sized chunks that you can click through for more. They’ve got very little time to grab you. They’re competing with a lot of other people who are trying to use and they certainly were not saying that all journalism should be done in pure paternalistic fashion right I mean there is a place for new media in the journalistic landscape. I mean while it may not be the same type of news there is certainly a place for things like hyper local news cast about several philosophers desperately trying to help things like that that might interest in each audience it’s generally put forward as a very right wing conservative notion but I don’t necessarily agree with their disagree with it because the concept of the marketplace of ideas free markets are really really good at developing good products and developing value over products. So can we really complain about the free market forces in the world of information in the long run this is the best way to go. The way that it’s going in sensationalism is just going to be a part of it I don’t know I think there are problems there. When you have no vetting when you have news or things that were this fired to the news that are willing to put out information that isn’t solid or may in fact be in part or in the whole false and so you have this dissemination of misinformation. That sounds good to whomever their viewership is or what have you. But it isn’t true. I think that is a very big problem with that sort of system. But don’t we as responsible media consumers bear some of the responsibility for choosing those news sources and verifying to what extent they should be trusted. Some pending of whether trust is a given. Media consumers first priority increasingly we see the media of all varieties hold our attention and however many directions we have started ingesting our media faster and faster and the levy itself seems to be in like smaller and smaller bites. There are plenty of people I know that will judge the worthiness of an article to read based solely off of its headline which was I mean meant to grab attention. And one of the prime targets for sensationalism. More and more people’s yay or nay response to wanting to read an article is kicked off like going through social media. But for example let’s take someone who was inadvertently fooled by an Onion article. And in case there’s anyone left in the universe it doesn’t know The Onion is a satirical news type site that makes fun of the types of stories to go around the news on a regular basis. If some of them are fooled into that because they saw a headline and they thought this was a real story wouldn’t it be that person’s fault for not having verify whether or not the onion was a source to listen to as opposed to the onions fault for having them inadvertently. This is an interesting thing about social media as we are just passive consumers were also broadcasters were also sharing it and passing it around and spreading it. A reaction that I see very commonly especially online from people is not so much that they want to be informed but they want something to react to. They want to find something that helps them express moral outrage in very often they will go off of the title of something without actually reading the full nuance of the full story and say that person did something horrible and they’re wrong and they feel good about themselves for saying so you think. Well see something that anger is just out of the headlines and without actually really look into it. What they want to do is put it out there. I think this is wrong this is horrible this is bad. It’s like we’re all jacking up our moral high horses in the reach for the heavens trying to get above everyone else. I think you have a point that we’re in a sort of perpetual hyperbole battle amongst ourselves like who can have the most outrageous version of the same thing. But at the same time I think that there might be something to be said for the idea that people are responsible for what they put out that when we choose to engage in that that we have to take responsibility for what the consequences of putting that out in the world are. We’re all journalists. Sure in some sense we are and I think that while the onion example is clearly a very farfetched one most people who get fooled by an Onion article quickly realize it was an Onion article and move on with their day. I think that the same principle can be taken seriously with regard to say bloggers who may not have a lot of journalistic background or I don’t think really because it’s not necessarily an intentional misleading but at the very least their credentials are questionable at the very least that when you read that it is your responsibility to go what is the veracity of the story should I immediately become morally outraged over it or should I look into this person and did they have a leaning do they have a particular type of story that right about time this person reliable in other cases. Have they posted misinformation before they got their information from. No I do kind of agree that some of the burden falls on the consumer of the news but you kind of have to do a little research yourself although it goes against the. The sort of fast lifestyle that a lot of people have come to adopt these days I think people are better for it too but they are information in their news. I’ve certainly done it a few times with something that sounds particularly far fetched and sometimes I found myself correct in thinking that it was several news stories have slipped past and even got posted by Reuters or the Associated Press some of the bigger more prestigious news organizations. Sure and I don’t want my son went and saying there’s no place for a more metered and professional level journals I think that both can exist in an ecosystem of ideas wherein the big fish help us verify information. The citizen journalism the even more fast and loose tweet about it immediately is a good way to get some headlines and kind of know what’s going on in the world but you have to take another step to find out what level of trust you should place in that and I think that’s our responsibility as media consumers more than it is the responsibility of Twitter bombers and fast and loose News Journal bloggers. That’s something they don’t bear any responsibility to do but we have to take some responsibility for what we consume as well. We can necessarily control them. You’ll learn some pleasing them. I do kind of want to state take a step back here because we’re very much making it sound like something tional ism is a new practice in journalism but it’s really been around for quite a long time especially in the American market with a sort of low starting in the one nine hundred thirty S. and forty’s and going through to the late seventy’s. But before then we saw a lot of what was called back in the day and sometimes still today yellow journalism one of the people. Most well known for this was William Randolph Hearst the newspaper mogul and then him an opponent of marijuana growing partially because he felt threatened his business but he not only attacked that as an industry but his opponents and used his platform his newspaper as a personal platform first politics. He ended up being a member of the House New York House of Representatives throughout his career and is kind of the sensationalist bad guy and this is no more more prevalent then Citizen Kane the Orson Welles film which Orson Welles himself got blacklisted from Hollywood very late in the Hearst life he saw it and immediately made calls to get Orson Welles’ kicked out of Hollywood effectively and well Citizen Kane is considered a masterstroke to this day of cinematic excellence. It ruined Orson Welles’ career because Hearst ruined him for for basically telling the truth and a lot of the problem of Hearst yellow journalism was not just that it was politically driven I mean obviously that was problematic but Hearst was known to outright lie just to tell complete falsehoods. Hearst published stories especially with regard to is an attempt of marijuana a lie about Mexicans who would smoke grass and murder white people in their beds go on massacre sprees helped out Negroes would roam the streets looking to rape white women. But the kind of headlines that he took where he had very little if any basis in reality and just spread his particular brand of angry Alytus racism and hatred about it already and some disputable raster. I’m starting a Cuban American or commanded one of his people to start writing about the war that America was having breakfast. There were never more curious wrote the story on the war as an i Phone call if nothing else. You almost want to quote like that to be true. You know here’s a situation where we have an environment where there are keepers. There are these newspaper magnets there are a few of them and they’re deciding what information everyone is hearing and yet we have the sensationalism for their own ends. So I mean the different situation we have now where everything’s very fragmented in the city’s financial system is a whole lot of which is trying to be heard above the crowd in their case to sensationalism as a few people just sort of almost being informational tyrants. That’s fair but part of it was they would create these false or exaggerated articles and headlines to sell more copies of the newspaper like that was a big thing between Hearst and a contemporary of his Joseph Pulitzer like both were accused of yellow journalism to try and sell more newspapers because they were too greedy about it. Well it seems to me like you know all of these instances you see similar threads and there is an attention economy that has to be won out in order to be in a position to do what you might want to do with your journalistic product be it a newspaper or a T.V. show or a blog or whatever else you have to first garner attention and even if your environment is a few big players you still have to try and garner attention from amongst them. Whereas in our current media landscape there are a lot of little players as well as some big players and everybody’s trying to get attention for everybody else. So I think it’s important to realize that even if the actual goals that come after that have changed a little bit rather than being selling newspapers it’s it’s on a blog or something similar that maybe doesn’t generate correct. It’s certainly the same kind of game being played. Business in general in the late nineteenth century was rather different in the way a large concern today in those robber barron attitude. They did not play nice with each other. There were two or three people sharing the market. They were sure the tooth and nail. Everybody wanted to know if you’ve got two or three corporations in one single in one single industry and what they’re going to do is they’re both going to like that prices are going to even out with each other they’re going to do what they call best practices. They’ll take their big chunk of this fat market and just be happy with it rather than try to fight each other or certainly and I think another thing that changed between then and now probably for the better is the dispersal and the democratization of information the fact that we have information coming to us faster and from more sources certainly helps. It can also be a hinderance certainly but it helps us as a culture kind of that and verify better what’s true and what’s not. If we go out and look for sources and for where these planes are coming from we’re able to find it better. There’s you know certainly back in the day there was no internet not even really much of the telephone system and so you had to take it on face value share and to some degree over his writings and so you don’t a noise ratio problem right. On some level. Boosting the amount of stuff you hear will increase the number of true things you hear and it might also a certain point to over to also increasing the number of postings you’re the ratio may start to fall between those two even if you’re having more good informational nuggets come your way. So Lebanon Vironment with our media where we have to find the right balance of those things it’s not just more true things are less false things it has to be the highest ratio of true or false. Think we might become some fragmented society this might have something to do with polarization. If we’re in a marketplace of ideas where out of thousands of possible channels for information I choose the set of the ones I like which is another media that I can consume maybe said dozen sources. You choose yours someone else chooses there is a record in their own preferences and biases and psychology. Now we each live in different bubbles as opposed to back in the day when there are fewer choices. Everyone lived in the same big bubble we all sort of lived in the same world of what’s true and what’s not now we’ve each got you know if we’ve reached out to selection from this huge list of choices we’ve each got our own in a sense living in our own world of what’s true and what’s not. And there’s a limited overlap between them. So I think there’s more people talking past each other than used to be. So we’re talking about the concern of all or over plurality of truths that if we don’t agree on a set of things that are true that young some level we can just continue to yell at each other because both sides believe they have the truth. What we can’t have a debate lesser agree and premises of any argument. And if it’s self-selecting or world of facts from different argue and competing informational channels I guess the question is how do we reassemble a single world of truth that we all live in in order to have constructive dialogue. Well it seems to me and that’s one of the areas where philosophy can still be incredibly useful to the modern era. That philosophy helps us to weed out those things which are untrue not because they don’t match the facts of the world but because they are not sound within their own principles. Those things which are self-contradictory those things which cause logical mis assertions the syllogistic matters. Socratic method are long tested principles by which to try and find some elements of truth. They don’t give us an absolute guide to truth but they give us tools to which to try and determine which things we should give any credence to and which things are on their face problematic for their own case and that doesn’t require a huge study philosophy where you’ve got to dig through all the tomes of the great men of the last two millennia. This is actually a fairly easy to get through a list of just contemporary techniques for vetting information. It’s unbiased neutral it’s all technique focused it’s pretty simple critical thinking and I think could really help with this regard of us living on our own little islands of self selected facts and I agree with you no worries them I think it’s present further than that that there are definitely some methodologies that we can use and tools that we can grab. But it’s to me at least almost as much about the minds or the practice of constantly critically evaluating those things that are around you. That’s the tertiary value of exploring and understanding philosophy in my opinion and why I still believe that it’s a very valuable education to have even if it’s not directly plenty of jobs when you go out in the world. People always get what you can do the philosophy degree. Well it’s not what you do with philosophy or having studied philosophy or wasn’t it was part yes it’s what you learn to do in your day to day life in the background the things that are not the direct focus and discerning what kinds of media are some specialist which kinds are is a key example of something that we can learn a lot about by understanding soundest of arguments and the types of fallacies that get created over time. Sones of this analogy I like to use and somebody asked me what was his philosophy. Well if you go to the gym with weights you see the weight there on the rack. You pick it up and put it down. You’ve done all this exertion to move this heavy weight and then you put it. Back where you found it out where you left it. You worked on the chair. Now you’re putting all this effort and that that weight as it moved anywhere so I guess you have putting it all that work. What did you accomplish the same thing all the platoons and we’ve been wrestling with these eternal questions for all of humankind I would put it to work from different angles we dig into it and at the end of the day the question still remains the philosophical problem is still there but we’re wiser for having made the attempt. Just as you’re stronger for having moved that way. Well certainly and I think that’s a bit of a problem with our culture and not to get to sidetracked but you don’t see a lot of emphasis on critical thinking in lower education these days. I personally being the youngest member of the chain gang I didn’t really know what critical thinking was until high school and I think that’s a major problem. Like nobody addressed it until I was in high school and then I was kind of expected to do what it wants and I had to learn it myself and I think it belies some of the issues we see in our days with a lot and acceptance of of things like sensationalist news that we don’t exercise these these critical thought processes in school I agree this is a great dovetail back in because the greater social construct of not being yes society that values critical thinking is one brilliant sensational to me if we were a society that in general practice critical thinking and it was we would be less apt to be fooled in the first place by this kind of media and this kind of announcement or to pay attention to what we’re saying now because we would have the practice on a regular basis of looking at that and saying no I don’t think it’s likely to do you have to look forty five people on the bus I don’t think. That’s a reasonable thing to think this headline actually means so there must be more behind it and they want me to read this article. Do I want to read this article or do I think this is likely to just grab my attention and move on with it something else. I think her selling point is to say that any given media consumer in the informational environment that you exist is a look at that information which you like to actually be true. What would you call someone who lived in an informational environment so called facts are almost entirely false. Well probably a full one of your fault. Well here are some techniques you can use to get your information. Now I agree with that and I think that to a large extent that you feed off each other. The last time we spend talking about critical thinking media literacy in some of these other related issues the more it becomes the more useful it becomes to have those things in terms of a means of controlling people in terms of guiding people’s attention towards the things you want and away from other things. I think that when we foster a culture of not paying attention to that critical thinking and media literacy elements that are going on in our day to day lives we essentially give up control of those day to day lives to somebody else we say you make the decisions for me. Fox News for example you go ahead and decide what’s important for me to hear and you go ahead and tell me what I should think about it. And that’s problematic in general. It means that we don’t have an informed citizenry. We have a guidance that is free and that crumbles the very structure upon which our entire system of governance and our way of life is belt. Certainly certainly and it’s almost frightening when you see certain media outlets and certain news outlets that that are espousing that you should only listen to them. Because they are the truth. I don’t know it just strikes me as kind of frightening. Well perhaps more to the point they claim to be the truth tellers the other people are the liars right and that’s important because we all have inherent to the way humans think about the world. A desire to avoid the liars. So we’re setting aside the whole point of media channels accusing each other along. I think there is you said there is some value in having somebody who decides whether something is actually true and whether it is newsworthy. In much the same way it is valuable to not have to all grow our own food in our own backyards. You know journalism is work and if you know we can have somebody specialize in OK you figure out what we should know what’s important to us when it gets to which you mention when they tell us what to think about those I think it crosses a different line. It starts becoming journalism and starts becoming propaganda ploy. Well and to some extent it’s impossible to truly bias free journalism there is a certain amount of always being here and I’m going to use an example from a book called How to watch T.V. news and I’ll put a link to that in the show. But basically you imagine a situation in which a Palestinian seventeen year old throws a Molotov cocktail. Two Israeli soldiers that one of the Israeli soldiers hit with a Molotov cocktail is blinded in one eye by a piece of glass coming off the wall and you try to put yourself in the point of place of the reporter during that story which details do you include and which do you leave out do you say that it was a Palestinian attacking Israeli soldiers. Well that seems like an important detail but at the same time it seems like it’s a little bit prejudiced to put it out there in that way. Do you point out that it was a minor or do you say that Israeli man because he was seventeen is he. More a regime or a child. You point out that the Israeli soldier was blinded in one I didn’t say he was injured. What if they shot the Israeli Palestinian child in the process do you report on that as well. Do you report on the attack to some degree how we as human beings experience the story influences how the story gets told. So but it should be said that journalism is a practice I mean you know you can take college courses in journalism and there are practices in techniques for answering at least to some extent you know all of those questions that you have asked like how you would approach them at least to reduce bias and then you can fairly limited but there are specific techniques that was biased from journalist writing down to a vanishing point. They do admit there will still be some but oh I definitely agree that there will always be some human society is a political machine we are by some extension political creatures What is it. Anything you write that he’s leading that you produce will come across as being political in some fashion and there are well there are ways to mitigate that. It still happens wherever there are two people together. There’s politics. Well I think that there is an upswell of the new media in the world that perhaps trying to be unbiased is actually hurting us that instead of trying to be unbiased we should acknowledge your bias and try and be fair in our reporting as a good example of this is serial the incredibly famous now contest for of all sorts of internet records in which there are training who was a producer with This American Life reports on one story for twelve hours and really dig deep into investigating. Their conviction of a guy for murder in this particular story she acknowledges that she’s not unbiased. That from the very beginning she feels like this guy was convicted unfair. But in the process of doing so they’re present all the possible information about it and trying to tell you the whole story not just the parts that support one side or another. There is a bias. There is a clear bias to any knowledge they are biased but they also say here are the things that are problematic for our are biased. This particular fact makes it very hard to feel the way I do. And at the end of the story they need to sort of wrap up where they try and analyze whether or not that opinion has changed over the course of learning all these things. It’s not the same model but it goes to the same goal which is to tell a true story to tell the most true story we can about events in the world. People point to the patrons their patron saint of biased journalism Walter Cronkite. He was back when you know that was a perfect example of an unbiased guy. They forget the broadcast. When he came around the desk sat on the edge of it took off his glasses and said to the camera you get no damn good reason why we’re still in the gym. You know I don’t know. And a lot of things people seem to not recognize with with American journalism is it’s just that it’s American it is done from the American perspective is there is no other bias there’s still the bias of being an American person living in America and the cultural sort of baggage that comes with it. And Walter Cronkite for being touted as this pillar of journalistic excellence never disputed back never never try to show himself as sort of a man of the world as it were trying to move from a global perspective as opposed to an American perspective. And I think people lose sight of that sometimes and I think in his age people really thought in terms of bias he would only ever claim to be fair. So we talked about a lot of journalistic integrity stuff and a lot of fires. But what we’re supposed to be talking about tonight is sensationalist media specifically and I think it would be a disservice if we didn’t talk about the problems of sensationalist media. We talked a lot around the ideas of how little we did or what the solutions might be whether or not it should be in these environments. But we haven’t really gone into why you wouldn’t want it. So what is the problem with sensationalist media. Why is it OK to say dogs everywhere or have someone become Ramadan are attacking babies just on the off chance you didn’t buy a D.V.D. The only arsenic already atoms of it in your home. So why not. I mean what’s the real harm. Well for one thing we are brains are not our brains have a facility in them for doing inductive reasoning to determining statistics but only in the wild as we’re involved in small tribal groups doing statistics on a large population. Our brains will give us an opinion based on the number of cases that we’ve seen. That may seem higher or lower than is real whereas if you actually count the number of statistics you know proper data collection would tend to be way off. You know when we see a similar event being really hyped up is terribly important. Just a couple of times we may actually think this is happening all the time. You know if I was like I wouldn’t want to leave the house for fear of cops shooting me from the news that I’ve seen. What are the actual statistics. There’s too bad but not the news media would make it seem and that’s might inform how I live my life. Well I think the world’s going. Yeah I think part of it is. Well news is ostensibly just words on a screen or in a video feed or in your ear. Words can really easily translating that action and that’s a problem if there is a spurious or outright false claims about certain things that can cause panic and it can and has caused real life effects the whole Obama’s going to outlaw guns thing which he very obviously hasn’t in nearly seven years in office he’s been in now but all the same we’ve seen gun sales or gun prices skyrocket the price of ammunition and all the related accoutrements go way up because of this panic that we’ve seen in the does only in gun collecting community where they have this fear that they’re going to be taken away so they’re they’re stocking up just in case they’re about to keep them or something because of this false or these these various claims. Don’t think that’s the key to the worst examples of institutional reporting is that a prisoner appears well and the quintessential example of having the wrong information because that in fact is a she was for the Worlds and the radio broadcast having the wrong information and believing that it was true. Let a lot of people do a lot of very stupid things. Several people were injured when the broadcast happened has been documented that people acted in very foolish ways based on that information that lead to the real broadcast. So clearly there’s a problem with knowing false information and believing it to be true on the other hand there’s also almost the opposite problem. If you have received false information too many times to be young to be too skeptical of those sources and that. Do you not accepting good information when it does come out. So we have a certain danger of believing the wrong things too many times that have to be also of point sort of the boy who cried wolf. So there you go. You know you have that information bad information bad information good information from all from the same source. But that history of bad information leads you to believe that the good information is fat. And if you look at the thought process of conspiracy theorists It’s not that they’re actually too credulous that they’re buying into something that is that is unlikely they’re actually too skeptical. They’re refusing the obvious and simplest answers because they don’t trust the sources. Sure. I mean a good example at least in my opinion is the end of next year that these people have been offered good solid information in formats that should be able to alleviate the concerns over what dangers there might be associated with this practice because we have been because we’ve been trained to be afraid of pharmaceutical companies and dangers of chemicals and things in our bodies and to be wary of the consequences of certain kinds of medical interventions that turned out to be problematic in the past. We have a large percentage of the population now that is actually so afraid of that they disregard perfectly good information in favor of a narrative that fits that sense to the point that we’ve had not only urgent but the epidemic of the entirely preventable disease. And in fact there’s very little difference between someone who has gotten in a false mindset for rejecting good information. When someone has gotten to a false mindset through accepting bad information. Grow most identical in terms of outcome you know that this person is really buying into this Looney Tunes thing but they get there through UPS It means you are being too credulous or too skeptical sort of meter on the other side. Sure and another major problem with sensationalist media sources the idea is that if the environment is so watered things trying to get your attention in the most outlandish possible ways the signal is lost in the noise of all the attempts to grab your attention. It could be information coming out about some terrible new drug that has been prescribed to lots of people of people shown here. They should know about but if the amount of information out there in the world is all busy claiming that every drug that has ever been produced by pharmaceutical company is bad for you and will tear your body apart in a terrible way. If that’s the environment then the cream doesn’t get to rise to the top. Instead we get everything in the same doses and that’s problematic for the living truth about the world falls this illusion alarmism we sort of live in a perpetual state of alarm and those are things that the media tells us what’s acceptable and what’s not. Yet many people die from heart disease every year. We’ve learned to live with that that’s no big deal if someone gets killed by a serial killer. We all freak out. The media tells us which of these which of these deaths is just something we have to live with and which is something we should be concerned with and it’s fairly arbitrary when you think about it in the dark night there’s a quote from the Joker where he says nobody panics when things go according to plan. Even if the plan is horrifying tomorrow I told the press that like the gang banger will get shot or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up nobody can see because it’s all part of the planet. When I say that one little mirror will die well then everyone loses. I mines one death versus another. We all understand that if you know all human life is equal merit in that one person shouldn’t another should. But we do care very much about certain rather than others and it is the media that informs us of that if the media started telling us something else is more important we start caring about that different role they play. Aside from telling us what’s your role on the T.V. show The unbreakable commish. Or women are rescued from an underground bomb shelter where they were kept in a sort of cult situation the media headline is three white women were rescued one Hispanic woman also freed and now I definitely think there’s something there. Although I do find it interesting that we see in other media being expressed to curb sensationalism like the example you’ve given is very much a sort of sensationalist headlines while ostensibly true its poking fun at sensationalism and how it seems to parse information. Another really good example of this just as a whole is NEWSROOM. The Aaron Sorkin program that has kind of taken shots sensationalism in a really big way where the main character and all of his crew run the cable news network. But they’re very much trying to bring it back to the sort of inform the public. I have Buddhist sensationalism sort of deal. Yeah. NEWSROOM is amazing and there’s a lot of good stuff there about the media about sensationalism about the responsibility for journalistic ethics or some other good resources are uncertain movie Network movie but there’s a lot of good stuff to say to our current media environment. Something that people should reach back and find a way to watch a fight and another good example in a more timely media is the first episode of the first Islam black murder has a lot to say about socialism in media and it’s really pretty powerful stuff if you take it seriously. The book that I was referencing earlier is how I watch T.V. news by Neil Postman and Steve Powers. It’s an excellent read and a great guy to trying to parse some of what’s going on in the world of media and reporting and what role entertainment has in the news. Sean silence I believe today I shall take the last word. My legal team has advised me that I should point out this is the opinion of myself Professor medal and not the podcast as a whole as some of you may be aware I am a member of what is commonly referred to as the venting community. I utilize the electronic cigarettes. I think this particular subset of people who spend lately a prime target for sensationalist media we often see things coming up saying this study or that study has shown there’s formaldehyde in the electronic cigarettes or that there are more cancer risks than cigarettes by some level of orders of magnitude bigger What have you and I think part of the problem we see here is that in the sensationalist media environment there’s this sort of predisposition towards maybe not lying but definitely misrepresenting things. In the case of these studies these studies were all done and they were done according to the scientific method enough that my approved sensationalizing or misrepresent. These particular studies or the results thereof is often in the vested interest of certain groups some of which to be fair. Do you believe they are simply looking out for other people’s best interests. Personally I don’t believe that misrepresenting facts is ever in anybody’s best interest. Well anybody else’s best interest. And some of these groups are in fact entire states. Some of these states it’s because they quite frankly have borrowed against their future cigarette sales. Some of them it’s out of the same misguided sense of morality. One prime example of this is California’s still blowing smoke campaign which has become quite popular and is a source of information for a lot of people about the health risks of electronic cigarettes. I think that anybody who feels maybe they should check this out should probably also check out its counter campaign not blowing smoke which was put together by people admittedly from the very same community who simply want better information to be out there. I would argue that nobody more than the people who utilize these products wants to know if there are health risks involved. But I don’t think that these scare tactics are quite the right way to go about that. I think that what we need to do is instead of rationally analyze the results of these studies and if we find nothing we find nothing we keep studying it. If we find something we focus on that and we keep studying that. I for one would very much like to know what the impact of electronic cigarettes are on my health. I don’t however want somebody telling me that saying This produces a great deal of carcinogens. When it in fact does not unless I am of course utilizing it in a fashion not in line with its intended use. Another part of this problem I think may be the issue of newsworthiness. I think that in order to fill the time slot in our current twenty four hour news cycle just to throw out some numbers say fifty eight fifteen to twenty five slots. Need something and perhaps we don’t have anything newsworthy. Well we can always just sensationalize something that we found on the Internet. Dogs writing skateboards is not newsworthy pictures of cats while adorable are not newsworthy. And I think the sort of trap we find ourselves in with this is that we feel pressured to be putting out news as such. People on the other end tend to feel a pressure to consume said news. Now obviously no one person is going to take in everything. And as such we tend to find places that agree with what we think and places that disagree with what we disagree with. There is actually a term for this. It is often referred to as confirmation bias. I discovered this recently and I can’t help but see it everywhere I look like to take us back to a simpler time a time not so long ago was a strapping young lad back then on April eighteenth of one nine hundred thirty the B.B.C. news came on and said there is no news today and proceeded to play piano music for the remainder of the broadcast. I think that looking back at that we can’t imagine what it’s like to have nothing newsworthy going on in a particular. Today I think that has greatly to do with the shift towards things being considered newsworthy. Just to fill a slot just to utilize more time and I think that’s maybe something that we need to itself step away from for a moment and say Is this really for the best to keep people informed. If everything becomes news then nothing is news by comparison because there is nothing with which to compare it to and say that it’s not me. That’s all the time we have for today. Don’t forget to subscribe interview on i Tunes follow us on Twitter send us your questions and if you like what we’re doing. Support us unpatriotic. Join us next time after we get some of the William Randolph Hearst back in its coffin. I’ve been your host Professor Metal hey¬†remember the news well he was in the biz. Now that sounds and social media online.


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