There is much to love about new media and greater access to information. The average person (with high speed internet access) can view primary source news in real time throughout the day. If a consumer chooses to, he/she can avail him or herself to messaging from politicians or experts who fly somewhat below the mainstream radar. This level of accessibility democratizes the flow of information for both the source and for the user.
There is a downside to the immediacy and the abundance of the information. Lack of (or flawed) fact checking has become a serious issue both in legitimate journalism and in the blogosphere. Some of these slips are no doubt due to the speed of the news cycle. A certain percentage of slips are a product of ignorance of the very concept of fact checking. (There are a significant number of people who actually consider wikipedia to be a primary source.) It’s also worth a mention that the editing profession ain’t what it once was. One need only pick up a book published (by self or house) in the past few years to witness the change.
Another unfortunate fallout from the glut of information is all the information! It is challenging to weed through so much noise to get to what matters. Rumors or sensational (baseless) accusations turn into news; because quite frankly legitimate news outlets cannot afford to ignore a story everyone is talking/tweeting about. Stories that were once the purview of the National Enquirer, People or any other tabloid, now find themselves in the evening news and newspapers of record. These distasteful ‘stories’ diminish the news source for some viewers/readers. Consumers who have made a point of avoiding the magazines in doctor’s offices and television monitors in airports now find their sensibilities offended in new and distressing ways.
There was a time when people would read the local newspaper for which they felt an affinity. There were New York City newspapers in the double-digits and with multiple daily editions! The network evening news choices were dry and authoritative (the monkey was only on in the morning.) Consumers received their news via a highly filtered process. Somewhere between processed news and raw news lies a happy medium. The consumer is now the editor and very few of us are equipped to do our own fact checking or redlining.
Andy Crocker (@abcrocker)
November 14, 2012 at 9:12 am
And confirmation bias is rampant! Don’t get me wrong, I want a free, open and informed society but one really needs some higher order reasoning to winnow out the chaff! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stood at the front of a room, talking to a group and someone will come up with something like “does coffee cause depression in twins?” No ma’am, I don’t know of any valid research showing this to be….. “Well, I saw on Google…..”
November 14, 2012 at 9:40 am
Well I saw on Google….
Now I don’t live in a cave; I know the rumor mill has always existed (spider eggs in bubble yum, anyone?) but when we see it “in print” we are lulled into a sense of legitimacy.