Monday, May 25, 2015

One-Sided News

It's a good thing to follow news from a one-sided source.  The old saw that bank tellers are taught to detect counterfeit bills by handling genuine ones would be a great thing to be able to apply to news as well.

The problem is, I can't think of an unbiased news source to use as our standard, to train us in the genuine. There is no large pool of genuine $50 bills to handle when it comes to news.  What most of us do is to try and fine the source(s) that come closest to being accurate and evenhanded. I propose that sources with identifiable points of view might be better, so long as one recognises what the POV is.  CS Lewis suggested starting with books from earlier eras, because we cannot read the books of the future, but must have something to set against our own age.  An older book - even a little older such as 50 or 100 years - has enormous biases that were unseen at the time but leap off the page to us now.  We get into the habit of correcting mentally.

Reading a biased news source now can also be instructive.  It demonstrates how one can lie with the truth, by reporting some things and leaving others out. This in turn can awaken suspicions about the sources we usually rely on.  Now that we know how the card trick is done, we might detect it more readily.

6 comments:

Sam L. said...

Mostly I consider "the media" as Democrat and leftist fellow-travelers, or out-and-out leftists. I don't watch TV news, nor read my state-wide and local rags, as they're all much the same and I gave them up years ago. I kinda wish it were not so, but am mostly accustomed to it.

Sam L. said...

Oh, yes; the state-wide rag got smaller and smaller, was sold, got even smaller, and is now printed as a tabloid. I gave up the daily, kept the Sundays for 2, maybe 3 years, until I found it too much waste of paper and my money. I'd like to get my local paper, but my local paper does not get me. It's the only game in town, and as the saying goes, the only way to win is not to play.

Edith Hook said...

Human foibles comes to mind.
Of course, the media is provocative. Inflammatory, controversial, melodrama is their bread and butter, their revenue stream. How conveniently manipulative is the maudlin sob story, inane sky is falling, or piling on. Sometimes it looks like they can barely contain themselves when they have a tragedy or controversy to exploit.

The media seems more interested in selectively presenting the damming and omitting the exculpatory. They contrive false controversy by reporting rumors, false or not. Then they ask the accused for a reaction, on the pretense that they are giving the accused an opportunity to correct the record or defend themselves. Really, they are just trying to up the ante, and playing their subjects off against one another. If they can create ever more outrageous round robins of accusations and outrage so much the better. I suspect most reporters are not above fabricating or selectively misrepresenting an accusation or off hand remark into something more provocative. In fact, not only do I think a lot of news is contrived, I think the reporters and the media insert themselves into much of what passes for news..... It seems like bomb throwing, gotcha games, and acting as a provocateur are now acceptable practice in journalism......So much of the news seems about as reliable as the information derived from the childrens' game "Broken Telephone".
I don't think it is a conspiracy or that everyone in the media is unethical, but the temptation to fudge a little to present a coherent, tidy, dramatic, human interest story must be difficult to resist, especially if it is what you WANT to see and believe.

Edith Hook said...

I think also, for a lot of unfortunate people, there is some sort of Munchhausen's thing going on, hence these weird allegations that pan out as hoaxes. It is a crying shame because crying wolf for the attention and sympathy is so harmful to real victims.

james said...

To spot the bias in your own sources requires a little analytical skill, even if you've seen how bias shows up in older ones. Unfortunately analytical skill doesn't seem to abound universally, or even be trained well when present.

Did you ever see "The Propaganda Game?" WFF N Proof Games

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Bookmarked. thanks