25 July 2011

List of events of which I have no comment

And am thus thoroughly annoyed take up valuable news time
1) Amy Winehouse death. I barely knew who this person was. I don't even need facebook posts about her, much less news stories. Thanks. Comparisons to Hendrix or Cobain et al seem really premature and overdone (and totally unsurprising, drug addicts often die "early", so to speak. This should be news to no one.)
2) News of the World/Rupert Murdoch scandal. This is journalists covering other journalists for doing things that journalists (sadly) do and thus is a masturbatory tale rather than important news.

I have no sympathy for Rupert and in particular his association with Faux. But unlike most of liberal societies, my criticism is of the PEOPLE who support by watching, not so much Faux itself, which is merely providing the service of telling such people what they want to hear (little different than their preachers or priests often do in a modern society with fluid religious associations). I see Faux as a follower, not a leader. The problem, as always, is other human beings, and not some criminal mastermind or organisation who is manipulating them. "They" are merely profiting by and exploiting the situation. "They" didn't create the demand for an alternative reality validating pre-existing beliefs.

The reason not to care about this as a problem is first that it's not a new problem (people telling us that it's caused by the internet for example should read Southern newspaper accounts during the antebellum period in US history particularly in relation to slavery and abolitionist movements and compare them to the accounts in Northern papers). Second, Wilde referred to it thusly: "Its failings notwithstanding, there is much to be said in favor of journalism in that by giving us the opinion of the uneducated, it keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community." Not only was that was over a hundred years ago, journalism has generally been used to provide not the service of reporting events to people that were not there, but to provide the service of confirming the pre-existing opinions of people who don't care to know what is actually going on. It's not a new story.

What is significant about the modern media climate is that it is reverting back to a previous state of peer-to-peer modes of information flow instead of the central model of news filtered through powerful media elites that came into being and prevailed through the industrial age of mass production. But that people have "news filters" which have often considerable biases and will seek out sources of information to confirm these biases as truth is not a new development. Pretending that it would go away if Rupert was somehow legally defamed and defeated is to ignore the problem: that there is an audience that Rupert's news organs are feeding.
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