Wednesday, October 13, 2010

the new media and politics

Do you think our instant access to opinions and information through the Internet is helping our political process or hindering it?

You know, once upon a time when we read say a political essay, we pretty much knew that, whatever side that person was on, they had some responsibility to be writing truth. If they did not, the newspaper or magazine for which they worked, would fire them, Today people read blogs, listen to radio programs and have no clue how much that person really knows, what their expertise might be, and even whether they lie. But they take what is said as gospel when it fits their preconceived opinion and is on their side of the political divide. If you have a certain agenda to press, it's not hard to find a lot of links to buttress up your viewpoint or make it look like it is solid information.  Frank Rich talked about this on Sunday --

Thanks to the Internet, writers can put out a post without spelling anything, knowing how to use punctuation and with places like Twitter and Facebook, it's not even possible to tell if they know how... or even if they wrote the words-- yet by some it will be taken as truth without further checking. These sites and the 'information' (using that word loosely) on them are not accountable to anybody. If they are popular, whatever they say will yield thousands of drones pressing 'like' who think they just heard something deep and important.

Worse when I turn on any news program, I am likely to have to hear what the robo-politicians said; so even if I avoid Facebook for my truth meter, I will hear the statement on a regular news program which in my case might be intended to horrify me but for others hearing it on say Fox, it'll be-- yep, that's how it is. Is it?

Part of me thinks this new media, with its speed of getting out ideas, is great. We can research things that we'd have spent months doing before-- but how do we know our research site is truthful? No publisher is fact checking much if any of it.

Part of me thinks this whole thing is proving very useful for a certain group of people, people with a lot of money, and they don't have my best interests at heart. Yet with newspapers going down, less magazines, limited numbers of news programs on television and mostly owned by a few people, what is our choice for getting information today?


Celia said...

It takes a lot of research to dig out a modicum of truth. I find value in the instant replay on the web of what someone has said in public rather than relying on the interpretation of another. Even then you have to be careful. It's made a terrible cynic of me. And I continue to be flabbergasted that so many yahoos get air time to spew. The best thing I can think to do is to keep reading, watching, observing, and examining for a grain of truth. Then educate our children (or any children you have access to) in rational thought processes. Teach them and ourselves to really think. And speak up, a hard one for me. The rapidity with which gossip spreads is astounding. But I'd be lost without people like Paul Krugman in the online NYT and others like him. Fund PBS news.

One advantage I can think of is that I now have access to BBC news, and the like, and can view articles and writing from around the world which gives me that country's view of themselves and often of us, even though they are beset with the same kind of reporting sometimes a pattern emerges.

Ingineer66 said...

I think the internet is good for politics. Not all of it is good, but overall it is. We have sites that show who is giving money to politicians or ballot measures. And we can read many, many sources for information. Just like the daily newspaper or the six o'clock news, if anybody still reads or watches those, they are tools to help us make a decision. If you let any one source tell you what to do, then you get what you deserve. But if you take in the information and then make a decision, that is the best we can do. At least one side does not have a monopoly on the information which is pretty close to what it was like 30 years ago.

PS I think it is funny that when we had a Republican in the White House and the left wing blogosphere was spewing a bunch of kooky things that was all wonderful to the talking heads on TV. Remember when we were being told that dissent is patriotic? But now that we have a Democrat in the White House and the right wing blogosphere is spewing a bunch of kooky things it is now a threat to the country.

Rain said...

Dissent is fine when it sticks to the issues. Do you not see how it's not doing that when it's about whether to try and impeach Obama over where he was born? Some of those who might soon have power in the House are talking about hearings into that or a lot of other things just like they did with Clinton. That's what the difference is. When you call someone a Marxist or they put out signs showing Obama as Hitler, that's not reasonable dissent. When we turn to insults rather than the specifics of what we don't like, then it's not good and that's what a lot of the objection is right now. This stuff about who took my country is part of that ridiculousness. Obama was voted in and he can be voted out but nobody took their country.

And I hear as much complaint about what Obama is doing from the so-called left wing media as the right. There is no lockstep here and there should not be. But stick to the issues not personal insults.

Robert the Skeptic said...

I have nothing to base it on except the old "Payola" days of radio where songs were moved up the charts using fake requests. But I feel that the polls "drive" the opinions rather than measure them.

Of course this whole concept by the news media so eager to predict what is coming next instead of reporting the facts AFTER they happen, bothers me immensely.

Ingineer66 said...

I really hope they do not hold any hearings about anything to do with Obama being born in the US or not. What a waste of time.

Robert that is two comments in row that I agree with you on. The apocalypse may be upon us. :-)