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What Matters? Whatever She Says.

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Ideology tells me all I need to know11222013-tumblr_mwl2a5mID11qedj2ho1_500

One curious thing about today’s entertainment mix is that we pick and choose where to get our news. And by “news” I mean the stuff happening in the world we want to know about.

Once upon a time the woman on TV with the engaging smile told me what was important at 10pm every night. Back in those old days the headline on the front page of the StarTribune also pointed at the critical big stuff of the day. And the people standing around the coffee machine at work confirmed what was important by talking about it.

Today we make our own choices—and unless we’re careful, we end up with a skewed version of the world. The Pew Research Center released a study of 80 hours of programming from four channels from Nov. 11-15:

The two channels with strong ideological identities in prime-time—liberal MSNBC and conservative Fox News—spent far more time on the politically-charged health insurance story than the overseas disaster. And the two organizations that built a brand on global reporting—CNN and Al Jazeera America, an offshoot of the Qatar-based Al Jazeera media network—spent considerably more time on the tragedy in the Philippines.

The panic machine called Fox News demonstrated that the Affordable Care Act rollout was much more important than the typhoon that claimed lives and property in the Philippines. MSNBC followed suit but with a bit more discipline. Al Jazeera America took a more fair & balanced approach to the two topics. You might argue that each organization was simply building their brand and giving their audiences what they sought. I agree. And I also think each organization continues to train their audience in what to want and what is important.

Humans are subjective beings so opinion and ideology always enter and inform our thinking and conclusions. Maybe the best we can do is to doggedly seek out alternate source of news, which is to say, purposefully hear from others (especially those different from us) about what is important. And given today’s multiplicity of channels, it would be a shame to think one organization can give a truly full perspective.


Image credit: Pew Research Center via The Future Journalism Project

Written by kirkistan

November 22, 2013 at 9:18 am

2 Responses

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  1. I get all my news from Leno…


    November 22, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    • I like to watch Jon Stewart on occasion. I wish I had not written that, now I must go watch a clip. Distraction!


      November 22, 2013 at 3:03 pm

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