In a recent election, sociologists, talking heads, and politicians were bemoaning reports that young people were getting their news from television—not from the soi-disant news channels, but from a comedy show written around current events.
Today (2 August 2016) Dante Ramos in the Boston Globe bemoans the idea that people are getting their news from social media, and points out that Facebook’s software “shows people material that affirms their ideological instincts rather than challenging them.” (Please scroll down and read my 24 July 2016 blog on perceptual filters.)
Mr. Ramos also gives examples of misleading headlines and “news” from several sources, without taking sides in the current political debate. It’s a well-reasoned article. The link is below. Sorry, no short URL.
The greatest problem with the internet is that there are no gatekeepers. Anyone can say or post anything they want, and laws about slander and libel are often unenforceable with respect to public figures.
The second greatest problem is the one identified by Mr. Ramos: social media and search engines, in an attempt to show people what they want to see are reinforcing prejudices and shutting off real debate.
Where do you get your news? If you’re checking only one or two feeds, or watching only one television “news” channel, you may be putting your mind in a prison of its own making.
Where do I get my news? From the internet, but from a wide variety of sources ranging from the Boston Globe to Aljazeera, from the BBC to the Christian Science Monitor, from UN.org/news to seeker.com, and others including Google News.
Some of them make me uncomfortable. I’ll see a headline and mouse past it, because it’s not what I want to hear. As soon as I recognize this feeling, I’ll go back and read the article, knowing that it’s going to challenge my own preconceptions.
Which of these news and opinion sources is right? I have no idea; however, by reading a diversity of opinions and reports, I think I have at least surrounded the truth. And I know that I have opened the bars of my mental prison, at least a little bit.
Here’s the link to the Globe article:
Registered Curmudgeon, scientist, skeptic, humanist, and writer.