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Posts Tagged ‘Fox News

What Matters? Whatever She Says.

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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

Vanishing Letters and Muscle Memory

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My life without “L” and “M”

tumblr_mf35djpVGv1qeubbbo1_1280-12262012Literally: L and M are gone. K is nearly gone. I have no period.

A few days ago I pointed Conversation is an Engine toward Coracle Journeys for a wonderful poem celebrating frailty. Today I realize my keyboard letters are going away.

I’m OK as long as I don’t look. But if I look down—right now—at y keyboard to ocate y issing etters—I can’t because they are not there. I must depend on muscle memory.

Is this what aging looks like?

Though I am a constant note taker (I like writing stuff down), there’s little need of these reminders as much of life is a been-there/done-that proposition. Writing, talking, eating—lots of our daily activities we’ve done hundreds of times. Driving to the gas station or school or to the grocer: did that x1000. We depend on muscle memory for a lot of daily living.

Muscle memory came up again and again in my family over the holidays. My brother-in-law and I talked about how practicing the piano and guitar had a lot to do with training fingers in certain reaches and movements from chord to chord. And my sister-in-law told how she intended to drive a friend and instead ended up at her home. Why? Muscle memory. These things get burned into our muscles through repetition.

Much of life works this way, which is blessing and curse. Maybe that’s why the NRA responds to murder with a call for more guns—muscle memory. Maybe that’s why Republicans want to shield the rich from reasonable taxation and why Fox News invents a war on Christmas every year—muscle memory. Maybe that’s why anything bad that happens results in focused media frenzy, a search for the guilty (or anyone with a photo), and a call for more laws. Muscle memory.

I can buy a new keyboard, but I’m not likely to try to look at it more often. My fingers already know that route. And while I want to grow muscle memory for the chords and notes on my guitar fretboard, I also want to pay more attention in 2013. Because muscle memory is not the answer to every question in life. Some things deserve a fresh look from a different perspective.


Image credit: Elisabet Sienstra via 2headedsnake

Written by kirkistan

December 26, 2012 at 10:00 am

Posted in curiosities

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Does a Steady Diet of FOX News Contribute to Early Onset Dementia?

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The faux-news channel seems to leave vulnerable adults in its wake

I have no double-blind, randomized studies to cite for this or any clinical research at all. Just observation that this particular entertainment outlet—with its flights of rhetorical fancy and its continual twisting of cherry-picked facts with dark conjecture, its on-air personalities who are caricatures of thoughtful people,  who continually feed a state of hysteria—seems to leave vulnerable adults in its wake. While the name implies news, it’s really an entertainment channel for a particular narrow conservative world view that takes an all or nothing reductionist approach to every story. Everything is black and white. There is no gray area where thoughtful people might discuss merits. It is the perfect mental food to feed and frame the coming apocalypse (whether zombie or rapture).

We’ve known for years that we need to monitor how much TV our kids watch—for a number of reasons. They need to go outside and get fresh air and play. They need to read. Snacks and TV and obesity seem to fit so neatly together. We’ve also speculated (I cannot point to definitive research), that violent video games contribute to violent behavior. Is it so far-fetched to think that isolated adults who entertain themselves with a faux-news entertainment (which seems dedicated to breaking down reasoning ability, maintaining their demographic in near-panic and cultivating their buying choices)—may push some over the edge?

My argument is less about a conservative viewpoint (some elements I agree with) and more about how the faux-news entertainment channel debilitates its audience with hysteria and rumor-mongering, so much so that they cannot hear and do not pursue alternate opinions which could help balance their media diet. It leaves vulnerable adults by chipping away at the power to reason effectively. We’ve known for years that watching TV makes us stupider—actually putting us into a wakeful sleep pattern of brainwaves. Something like hypnosis. Is it possible that FOX News is stupid on steroids, pushing viewers toward a persistent vegetative state even faster?

The solution is not laws that ban free speech. The solution is family interventions that help curb the infusion of faux-news. Friends don’t let friends camp in front of Fox (faux) News.


Image Credit: silentcuriosity via 2headedsnake

Written by kirkistan

November 11, 2012 at 4:32 pm

Posted in curiosities

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