Readings To Consider - 4/28/21

Books and Articles worth a Review… 

Reporting versus Creating The News – I thought I had a unique observation – BUT, I didn’t!! It seemed to me that over the last bunch of years (at least four 😊) that the tendency of the media – especially, the visual media – had shifted from “reporting” the news to “creating” the news. Reporting is where the reporters provide the facts in all of their unadorned glory and allow the listener to assimilate the information to determine the meaning. This is especially apropos to political news reporting but, more recently, it seemed to me that the phenomenon was seeping over into other venues like the impact of climate change, the Covid-19 responses on a global basis, the lobster wars here in Maine or pick your favorite topic other than politics to evaluate the thesis.

So, to support my thesis, I started doing some research on the topic. In addition to the usual query of perspectives on the Internet, it had previously been recommended to me that I needed to read Ezra Klein’s 2020 book Why We’re Polarized. Klein is the Editor-at-Large and Co-Founder of Vox, an award-winning news site focused on “explanatory” journalism. Needless-to-say, I discovered that at least one other, real journalist agrees with my thesis. However, Klein is much more thorough on the topic and I STRONGLY encourage everyone – of every stripe and perspective – to read this book. Let me offer just a couple of teasers: (#1) “If the strategy of the monopolistic business model was to be enough things to all people, the strategy of the digital business model is to be the most appealing thing to some people.” [p. 146]; (#2) “In today’s media sphere, where explosion of choices has made it possible to get the political media you really want, it’s expressed itself in polarized media that attaches to political identify, conflict, and celebrity. That is to say, it expresses itself in journalism and commentary that is more directly about the question of why your side should win and the other side should lose.” [p. 147]; and, (#3) “The old line on local reporting was: ‘If it bleeds, it leads.’ And outrage is deeply connected to identity – we are outraged when members of other groups threaten group and violate our values.” [p. 149]. The whole book is worth a read by everyone!

And, the point is? The point is that the increasingly polarized approach of media to one aspect of our culture – politics – it seems to be me is bleeding over (or, perhaps even hemorrhaging) into other spheres such as science, medicine, - even weather for cryin’ out loud… Yes, MSNBC is on the left and Fox is on the right – but, on everything! Even CNN has drifted into this space. So, as part of my quest to hear reporting of the news, I’ve turned to the BBC, NPR and The Big Bang as my favorite resources for unbiased news reporting – with a heavy leaning toward The Big Bang…

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