Difference between revisions of "Everybody Hates the Mainstream Media"

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Latest revision as of 19:08, 10 June 2020

The lesson I took from this is that for a great many readers, consuming the news is not about gaining information. Instead, it is about routine (hence the calls about the messed up horoscopes and crosswords) and identity (hence the anger about missing stories they knew about). People don’t pick up a daily newspaper to learn new things. They do it to have their habits, lifestyles, values, and identities validated and reinforced.

If there is one thing the current media maelstrom has emphasized yet again, it’s that hatred for the mainstream media is something you find across the partisan spectrum. Understanding the role of identity in news consumption is the key to understanding why this is the case.

In a recent blog post, the economist Tyler Cowen got it exactly right when he wrote “the feature of media that actually draws viewer interest is how media stories either raise or lower particular individuals in status… The status ranking of individuals implied by a particular media source is never the same as yours, and often not even close.”

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Or another good analogy is with the parliamentary system of responsible government, in particular question period. It’s not a coincidence that lawyers, journalists, and politicians are routinely ranked as the most disliked professions in the world. It’s because the law is not about justice, politics is not about democracy, and the news is not about information. But in each case, that is what emerges, by harnessing the status-conscious competitive natures of the participants.

- Andrew Potter, [1]