Improving the Media

Submitted by More Better on Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:37.
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Improving the Media

    There are many areas which I feel the media could improve and do a better job with.  Perhaps most important would be the presentation of unbiased facts and issues.  One thing I believe most of the country is not acutely aware of is how disliked the current U.S.- led Bush administration is overseas - especially in Europe.  In the summer of 2004 I traveled throughout Europe on a  14 country expedition - and aside from the U.K. I was overwhelmed by the passion and intensity with which people follow U.S. news and policy in relation to the rest of the world.  Eyes were glued to TV sets all over Europe during the Bush - Kerry election and I could feel the tension in the air and subsequent mass-mourning by most of Europe when results were announced. 

    Interestingly enough - very little of that was transparent to Americans.  It is my belief that this is because network media (TV and Radio) is corporate-run and sponsored.  Many of these corporations are big contributors and supporters of Bush.  Hence it is very diffcult for media to be truly unbiased.  Some outlets which are certainly more conducive to unbiased representation are those funded more independently - NPR and PBS come to mind.  News is also about ratings - and often stories that have tremendous mass appeal or tug at the heartstrings of viewers can be given undue weight and air time.  I also believe so much of the news (ratings-gathering) is focused on negative events that stimulate fear or depress people.   The fear element is especially noteworthy: Marx called religion 'the opiate of the masses' but I'd nominate the media as another agent of mass influence. 

    How do we influence the media to present more positive stories and present them in an unbiased way?  One way would be to discourage linkages between corporations and their alterior interests and/or connections between media moguls and campaign/political support.  This becomes very tricky - but I think nonpartisan ownership would be one solution.  Whatever body is the final say on content should be nonpartisan or have equal representation along party lines.  Some sort of checks and balances need to be instituted.

Government-run media would foster propaganda.  Corporate-run media indirectly does so.  So what's the answer: grassroots media? credible blogs? 


Meet the Bloggers


Check out this post over at Brewed Fresh Daily. Are you aware of what Meet the Bloggers is doing? They are doing what I heard some guy on TV last night said about TV not being able to do a complex subject justice. For example, they have a full hour interview with Bryan Flannery and other candidates for the Governor of Ohio. They had interviews with Jane Campbell and Frank Jackson. They'll be interviewing Sherrod Brown, and are taking people's suggested questions.

And the have an interview with David Abbott about Voices and Choices with which you, Sudhir, are involved somehow.

"MSM" is business. They do what they do to make money, no more no less. Listening to the special report on Tim whazziz name whom(who? ah, english grammar will be my downfall) is retiring as the local news anchor(forget the station), he calls it a "business". And talks about "competition". And that is not necessarily a bad thing, but the format and business decisions do impact how things are presented.

What Meet the Bloggers is doing is providing a mechanism to more fully allow thought leaders, mostly politicians so far, to answer questions in more depth. Allowing the public to think and reflect on their positions at their leisure.

The potential of the blogosphere

Thanks for the thoughts and links, Rob.  The blogosphere certainly seems to represent the greatest hope for unbiased media reporting.  The key, I suppose, is to find a credible and trustworthy media outlet that holds itself to standards that all good journalists and media sources do.  I'll definitely explore these links and get back to you subsequently with some further thoughts!

Let's also work to raise awareness of the best blogs out there - I love the potential of what RealNEO can become as a media source over time, given its unique platform and open source infrastructure.

"good journalists and trustworthy media outlet"?

The internet offers new dimensions of media reporting. One thing I find fascinating is the ability to access first hand insight - dialogue with you or Ed on a forum and be able to build real knowledge. For example, right here within realneo we explore how to enhance the value of realneo - the knowledge building is entirely transparent.

Determining what knowledge you will see in the everexpanding virtual datawarehouses of the Internet will increasingly be handled by artificial intelligence that will analyze everything that is known about you and everyone you know, and their reputations, and vast public and private content. Agents will use that to provide you with efficient access to the information and people you need to know, as fast as available.

Until that intelligence is all in place, we create our own filters, a significant one being whether or not we are really capable in cyberspace. Using virtual community is an important new benchmark of engagement.

We are all the media in the virtual universe

On Ed Morrison's Blog, Ed writes of the role of the Plain Dealer in defining the conversation of the region. I agree with that premise but also feel the internet allows every individual to have a voice in the media. The challenge is determining what voices are worth listening to or even responding to in conversation. Considering there are now millions of voices on the Internet, and so many of them are speaking up and louder, and the virtual world-cafe has just begun, the noise of the maddening crowds will become maddening.

That is where I see virtual community becoming important. Ultimately, we want ways to manage the content and communications already flowing through our virtual universe, and we want the future outcomes better. All that is in our control.

The virtual universe

Thanks Norm - well put.  Because the vitual universe include's everyone's voices and opinions - good or bad - we need to manage the content and offer the community spaces in the virtual world where information presented is not summarily accepted as fact but can be put to the test and challenged by others.  Such systems can and would have greater levels of accountability  - people  would give much more thought to the material they post  before they posted it.  There is danger with blogs that are not so open - people can become fans of a blogger and take that individual's word for gospel truth.  I like the premise of a system to allow for transparency of blog content between different blogs as well.  The conversations would not stay as localized and encouraging fresh perspectives and continually wooing new visitors whose voices can be heard would mitigate groupthink.  Groupthink, incidentally, is a phenomenon whereby members of a group or community begin thinking more alike and in more biased ways over time.

Regardless the proliferation of blogs has created a blogosphere which allows for any individual with enough moxie and heart to start their own media resource.  As for accountability on a higher system level, politiicans and corporations alike realize there is a new media outlet out there to keep them in check.  One can liken this effect which the non-profit / activist community has had over wayward players in the government, civic, and educational sectors.

Talking about better future outcomes brings to mind the betterment of ideas through virtual dialogue that either 'builds a better mousetrap' or possibly reinvents one.  We need to ramp up the dialogue and intersection of ideas by thought leaders (within and across sectors) who can create a wellspring of innovation and herald in a 'virtual rennaissance' for NEO.