The Media and 2000's Paranoia

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Glmclain
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The Media and 2000's Paranoia

Postby Glmclain » Wed Jun 16, 2010 12:31 pm UTC

So I got into an argument with a friend and I'd like your guys' opinion.

My opinion is that the media, after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War, was like "well shit, what's going to scare them into watching us now?"

Since there were no more evil Ruskies to be afraid of the Media has pumped us full of "Stranger Danger," "Internet Predators," "Pedophiles," "Violent Videogames," etc. to get us to tune in and find out what's going to kill us this week.

I think this whole 2000 era paranoia is largely driven by the media in an attempt to get ratings, while my friend disagrees.

So what do you guys think?
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Re: The Media and 2000's Paranoia

Postby Indon » Wed Jun 16, 2010 12:40 pm UTC

I think that businesses can be expected to do what gets them more money.

And I think that scaring people gets news businesses more money.

So I think that news businesses can be expected to scare people.

*shrug*
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Re: The Media and 2000's Paranoia

Postby Nem » Wed Jun 16, 2010 1:32 pm UTC

People are addicted to fear, it makes them feel important. I'm good because I'm not the evil, the evil is this thing over here; I'm important because the evil thing is out to get me in particular. Of course we could look at threats in the context of their comparison to every day occurrences and build a more valid world view, but that'd just be depressing. It's easy to blame the news but, well to use an old saying, 'You can't rape the willing.'

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Re: The Media and 2000's Paranoia

Postby Indon » Wed Jun 16, 2010 1:37 pm UTC

Nem wrote:It's easy to blame the news but, well to use an old saying, 'You can't rape the willing.'


In a situation like this, there's a thin line between that and "She was asking for it because of the way she dressed."

Is it ethical to exploit human instinct for profit to the detriment of the people you're profiting from?
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Re: The Media and 2000's Paranoia

Postby Tomo » Wed Jun 16, 2010 1:58 pm UTC

Indon wrote:Is it ethical to exploit human instinct for profit to the detriment of the people you're profiting from?


As long as they have a choice in whether or not to cause said detriment to themselves, I honestly don't see a problem with doing this.
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Re: The Media and 2000's Paranoia

Postby Indon » Wed Jun 16, 2010 2:22 pm UTC

Tomo wrote:As long as they have a choice in whether or not to cause said detriment to themselves, I honestly don't see a problem with doing this.


The concept of choice rather starts to get fuzzy when it comes to targeting things like instincts, reflexes, and so on - to the point where it can start to sound less like a meaningful concept and more like an excuse for people to abuse others so long as they can find a good opening.
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Re: The Media and 2000's Paranoia

Postby Tomo » Wed Jun 16, 2010 2:27 pm UTC

Indon wrote:The concept of choice rather starts to get fuzzy when it comes to targeting things like instincts, reflexes, and so on - to the point where it can start to sound less like a meaningful concept and more like an excuse for people to abuse others so long as they can find a good opening.


I don't really see that, to be honest. It's very easy to provoke an emotional response/reflex via the media, but acting on said response is still a choice.
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Re: The Media and 2000's Paranoia

Postby Indon » Wed Jun 16, 2010 2:33 pm UTC

Tomo wrote:I don't really see that, to be honest. It's very easy to provoke an emotional response/reflex via the media, but acting on said response is still a choice.


I question the value of a concept of choice that trivializes manipulation.

If I blackmail someone into doing something, do they still have choice? I should think you would agree that they don't.

What about if I lie to someone to get them to do something? Or abuse their trust? Or manipulate their reflexes?

A concept of choice that can not deal with such situations coherently and realistically is not a worthwhile one.
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Re: The Media and 2000's Paranoia

Postby Tomo » Wed Jun 16, 2010 2:55 pm UTC

Indon wrote:If I blackmail someone into doing something, do they still have choice? I should think you would agree that they don't.


Um.. yes? Just because my choice is between two negative outcomes doesn't mean I'm not choosing whether to give you £10,000 or let you show my wife those pictures of us together.

Indon wrote:What about if I lie to someone to get them to do something? Or abuse their trust?


People who don't have all the information often make bad choices in any situation, but a bad choice is still a choice.

Indon wrote:Or manipulate their reflexes?


Action based reflexes aren't choices - if you hit my kneecap or burn my finger, I don't decide whether to jerk my leg or pull back my arm. But those effects are few, far between and I imagine incredibly difficult to exploit for profit.

Emotional reflexes however, I stand by what I first said. If I see a news story about a man being shot outside my house, I don't have a choice to feel scared. But I do have a choice to act on that fear, and if the same media starts selling bullet proof vests I'll be choosing not to buy one.

Not sure quite how offtopic this is getting, possible split into a topic discussing choice could be required? Either way, to return to the original point, I believe the media does whip up paranoia to stay in business, and I think in many cases, this is a bad thing. I'm not convinced its effects are entirely negative though.
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Re: The Media and 2000's Paranoia

Postby Indon » Wed Jun 16, 2010 3:28 pm UTC

Tomo wrote:Action based reflexes aren't choices - if you hit my kneecap or burn my finger, I don't decide whether to jerk my leg or pull back my arm.

You choose not to override those reflexes, because they can be overridden - you can keep your finger in the fire if you choose to, or suppress the movement of jerking your leg. In a similar mannter, you can choose to override a perfectly natural reaction to fear.

I think the definition of choice you use borders on meaningless. Of what significance is a definition of choice that can not be infringed upon, except to use as blame against people who have bad things happen to them?
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Re: The Media and 2000's Paranoia

Postby Diadem » Wed Jun 16, 2010 5:26 pm UTC

.
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Re: The Media and 2000's Paranoia

Postby morriswalters » Wed Jun 16, 2010 6:02 pm UTC

News=gossip

If there was no news people would make it up. You have to have something to do when your not doing anything else.

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Re: The Media and 2000's Paranoia

Postby Crius » Wed Jun 16, 2010 7:37 pm UTC

Indon wrote:Is it ethical to exploit human instinct for profit to the detriment of the people you're profiting from?


Is it unethical for someone to sell high-fat or high-sugar food when we instinctually like the flavor?

I mean, unless they're actually falsely reporting things, you will actually have a choice to rationally analyze something and decide whether or not it's worth getting worked up about. Also, what's the detriment? The only thing I can think of is undesirable laws, which will always be a problem when a population chooses not to analyze things rationally.

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Re: The Media and 2000's Paranoia

Postby Azrael » Wed Jun 16, 2010 8:00 pm UTC

People have been doing a decent job at giving that terrible analogy up there a wide berth. Let's keep it that way.

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Re: The Media and 2000's Paranoia

Postby meatyochre » Wed Jun 16, 2010 9:55 pm UTC

Crius wrote:
Indon wrote:Is it ethical to exploit human instinct for profit to the detriment of the people you're profiting from?


Is it unethical for someone to sell high-fat or high-sugar food when we instinctually like the flavor?

I mean, unless they're actually falsely reporting things, you will actually have a choice to rationally analyze something and decide whether or not it's worth getting worked up about. Also, what's the detriment? The only thing I can think of is undesirable laws, which will always be a problem when a population chooses not to analyze things rationally.

It's not unethical in any way to eat unhealthy food, it's simply a choice we make with no ethical consequences either way. So buying/selling of unhealthy food has no ethical judgment associated with it. I think that analogy also fails.

I would argue that there is false reporting going on in the media, if you (like me) call omissions of truth lying. There's a couple of key cases that illustrate this in the media lately. We're all familiar with missing white woman syndrome, I believe (link here in case further clarification is desired http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missing_wh ... .29_report).

The lack of news reporting in some significant missing persons cases is indicative of a media that is, at the very least, actively lying to us by omission of some cases and sensationalism of others.
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Re: The Media and 2000's Paranoia

Postby Crius » Wed Jun 16, 2010 11:48 pm UTC

meatyochre wrote:It's not unethical in any way to eat unhealthy food, it's simply a choice we make with no ethical consequences either way. So buying/selling of unhealthy food has no ethical judgment associated with it. I think that analogy also fails.

I would argue that there is false reporting going on in the media, if you (like me) call omissions of truth lying. There's a couple of key cases that illustrate this in the media lately. We're all familiar with missing white woman syndrome, I believe (link here in case further clarification is desired http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missing_wh ... .29_report).

The lack of news reporting in some significant missing persons cases is indicative of a media that is, at the very least, actively lying to us by omission of some cases and sensationalism of others.


I didn't mean to make a direct analogy to the media situation. That was a response to Indon's assertion that it is unethical to exploit human instinct to the detriment of the consumer.

I do agree that false reporting is unethical, and that lies of omission fall under that. As a general rule, I don't think sensationalist reporting, like a special report of sexual predators or similar, is inherently unethical.

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Re: The Media and 2000's Paranoia

Postby meatyochre » Thu Jun 17, 2010 12:22 am UTC

Crius wrote:
meatyochre wrote:It's not unethical in any way to eat unhealthy food, it's simply a choice we make with no ethical consequences either way. So buying/selling of unhealthy food has no ethical judgment associated with it. I think that analogy also fails.

I would argue that there is false reporting going on in the media, if you (like me) call omissions of truth lying. There's a couple of key cases that illustrate this in the media lately. We're all familiar with missing white woman syndrome, I believe (link here in case further clarification is desired http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missing_wh ... .29_report).

The lack of news reporting in some significant missing persons cases is indicative of a media that is, at the very least, actively lying to us by omission of some cases and sensationalism of others.


I didn't mean to make a direct analogy to the media situation. That was a response to Indon's assertion that it is unethical to exploit human instinct to the detriment of the consumer.

I do agree that false reporting is unethical, and that lies of omission fall under that. As a general rule, I don't think sensationalist reporting, like a special report of sexual predators or similar, is inherently unethical.

Well you don't find sensationalist reporting unethical... we'll have to disagree there. But my primary concern is the lack of coverage on similar crimes, just because the victim is lower-income or has the wrong skin color. Sensationalist white female kidnapping reporting is taking time away from reporting that could be dedicated to other victims. This is where the unethical factor comes in to play.
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Re: The Media and 2000's Paranoia

Postby podbaydoor » Thu Jun 17, 2010 11:34 pm UTC

It's kind of circular. I tend to come down on the side of the media people who say "we're just giving you what you want." Because when articles or stories get aired that are thoughtful, nuanced, serious, and in-depth, I guarantee you the ratings/hits/clicks are going to be faaaaaaaaaar less than the article about Lindsay Lohan's latest shenanigan, or the overblown sensationalist reporting on the missing white woman. *Somebody* has to pay those serious investigative reporters to toodle around for months on one story, and it isn't going to be charitable donations from all those people who blame the media for all of recent society's ills. It's going to be the ratings generated by the other reporters who are daily feeding the public with what the public has proven it likes.

This is the brutal truth: the news isn't there to draw your attention to the news. It's there to draw your attention to the advertisements. And the advertisers must be satisfied with the ratings/hits/purchases for them to patronize the news organization. Otherwise the reporters, editors, and producers wouldn't get *paid*. Thus, the treadmill to get higher ratings, and sensationalism gets higher ratings - this has been true since the first prehistoric storyteller next to a campfire somewhere figured out that exaggeration and colorful detail kept the audience's attention. Ben Franklin falsely accused rivals of being dead in his almanacs. Partisan pamphlets in the 1800s turned political mudslinging into an art form. And how do you think Pulitzer made his fortune?
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Re: The Media and 2000's Paranoia

Postby shadowdemon » Sat Jun 19, 2010 9:38 pm UTC

Tomo wrote:
Emotional reflexes however, I stand by what I first said. If I see a news story about a man being shot outside my house, I don't have a choice to feel scared. But I do have a choice to act on that fear, and if the same media starts selling bullet proof vests I'll be choosing not to buy one.

Not sure quite how offtopic this is getting, possible split into a topic discussing choice could be required? Either way, to return to the original point, I believe the media does whip up paranoia to stay in business, and I think in many cases, this is a bad thing. I'm not convinced its effects are entirely negative though.


See, the problem with this perspective is how hard it is to actually follow through with in the real world. Lets say that the local media reports shootings near your house. Lets also say that this media company is owned by or is affiliated with a media company that is owned by a holding company, that also owns the manufacturer that has a virtual monopoly on sales of bullet proof vests in the area. Are you going to be able to track these connections? Are you even going to be tangentially aware of the fact that these connections exist? Figuring out all the holdings of an international conglomerate is a lot of work even for someone with an advanced communications degree, you're average lay person might not even know where to begin. In a world where it's legal for defense contractors to own private media outlets, this exact thing happening is a very real possibility. Is this still the fault of the consumer?

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Re: The Media and 2000's Paranoia

Postby TheAmazingRando » Sat Jun 19, 2010 11:35 pm UTC

Glmclain wrote:So what do you guys think?
I think it's pointless to get into an argument over something for which you can provide no real evidence. You can't really point to one part of a circular system and say it bears all the responsibility.

However, as far as it being a response to the Cold War ending, I think that at least is demonstrably false. Sensationalist reporting and scapegoating has been going on since well before the Cold War ended. Comic books, Dungeons and Dragons, Satanism, etc. It's nothing new, so I don't think you can blame our current heightened paranoia (and I'm not particularly convinced we're living in more paranoid times) on it.

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Re: The Media and 2000's Paranoia

Postby Sockmonkey » Sun Jun 20, 2010 12:04 pm UTC

I remember a clip I saw somewhere that had an attractive female newcaster undress while reading the news.
As eye-rolling as something like that is it does solve the problem of entertainment-vs-news quality.
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Re: The Media and 2000's Paranoia

Postby sje46 » Sun Jun 20, 2010 3:47 pm UTC

Glmclain wrote:Since there were no more evil Ruskies to be afraid of the Media has pumped us full of "Stranger Danger," "Internet Predators," "Pedophiles," "Violent Videogames," etc. to get us to tune in and find out what's going to kill us this week.
You forgot the biggest one: terrorism. Are you on our side, or the terrorists' side? Why do you hate America?

Nowadays it isn't so much about what they're choosing to report, or their bias in doing so. Now it's all about the opinions. Character assassination. Implications. Is it immoral for Glenn Beck to show video reels of Nazis marching and Jews being herded off to death camps while talking about the new health care bill? Lou Dobbs ranting about the Amero, and a one world government? Death camps? Glenn Becks' theorized legions of black militants after Obama was elected (which turned out to be a dance troupe)? Fox and Friends a week ago: why didn't Obama go to church last Sunday? Fox and Friends two days ago: why did Obama tack on that prayer at the end of his speech? He's trying too hard to be religious!

Teaching the controversy. There is no controversy about evolution. If you don't believe in evolution, you're an idiot. News stations don't care! They will put a complete moron up there with a respected scientist, and you know what will happen? Simply putting them on the same level will make a person wonder if the scientist is an elitist who lives in another world, or is paid off. Same thing with autism. There is no evidence that there is a connection, but put a celebrity mother of a son she thinks suffers from autism with a highly respected and intelligent expert on the matter, and the public will side with the passionate mother against the man, trying to silence her. Even though "the man" is actively giving her a voice, for the ratings.

People love having their beliefs confirmed, and most people will ignore evidence against their own beliefs. This is called the confirmation bias. But to actually give these idiotic beliefs creedence in the mainstream media will make the entire country dumber, and much worse off. Kids are being taught creationism, kids are dying from easily preventable diseases, Republicans are stalling on important legislation in Congress, and gays can only marry in a handful of states in the country. Why? Partly because idiots are allowed a voice on networks that should focus on the truth, and shouldn't focus on money. We'd still have these issues if CNN and Fox News etc were intellectually honest, but they wouldn't be as bad as they are now

Yes, it is unethical. No, it doesn't matter if it's giving the people what they want. Isn't it unethical if twisted the words of the president so it looks like aliens exist, just to satisfy the conspiracy theorist? Wasn't Loose Change, with its many, many logical fallacies but very convincing rhetoric, highly unethical for putting so much doubt in the truth about Sept 11?

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Re: The Media and 2000's Paranoia

Postby podbaydoor » Sun Jun 20, 2010 4:45 pm UTC

Now it's all about the opinions.

Well, actually the local news and hard news segments on the major channels are generally fairly neutral and uniform in their reporting. There aren't many ways to spin a report about a local fire or whatever. News doesn't pay, though. Those opinion shows you cited? Those are the things paying for the hard news segments.

I get what you're saying about "giving a voice" to idiots for the sake of ratings. Part of it, yes, is being cynical and not giving a fuck about telling the truth or investigating stories. Part of it is having to fill that insidious 24/7 news cycle (in my opinion, one of the worst things to happen to journalism). Part of it is the incredible acceleration of the news cycle - so you could investigate and post a lengthy thoughtful piece, but in the meantime your rivals have already tweeted and blogged and they're getting all the hits. Part of it is simply executive meddling and the collapse of the wall between the business and editorial sides (see: Rupert Murdoch) - which is fueled by the fact that news orgs are now expected to be profitable and owners are no longer willing to lose millions of dollars a year for the sake of pure journalism. Because pure journalism is. not. profitable. It never was.

Partly because idiots are allowed a voice on networks that should focus on the truth, and shouldn't focus on money.

Who's going to pay for it, then?
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Re: The Media and 2000's Paranoia

Postby sardia » Mon Jun 21, 2010 1:05 am UTC

"Who's going to pay for it?"

There are 2 examples of semi-successful business models. One is the canadian gov't funded public channel. The other is the donation based public broadcasting. Both of these have remained bastions of dedicated pure journalism. Btw, this also means there is a market for hardcore news, however small it is. Whether or not governments can be trusted to fund the news is another question.

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Re: The Media and 2000's Paranoia

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Mon Jun 21, 2010 6:06 am UTC

TheAmazingRando wrote:As far as it being a response to the Cold War ending, I think that at least is demonstrably false. Sensationalist reporting and scapegoating has been going on since well before the Cold War ended. Comic books, Dungeons and Dragons, Satanism, etc. It's nothing new.

Older than that, even. Jack the Ripper was the first major modern media scandal, and it was editorializing associated with the murders, rather than the murders themselves, which set the public opinion ablaze. The story encapsulated concerns of anonymity and identity in the growing, industrialized cities; the morals of women in such cities (that is, their prostitution); and of the perceived lechery of men whose insatiable habits were not only destroying these women metaphorically, but now also literally. It is a shining example of both "there are predators out there" and "moral standards are slipping" editorializing.

sje46 wrote:You forgot the biggest one: terrorism. Are you on our side, or the terrorists' side? Why do you hate America?

Nowadays it isn't so much about what they're choosing to report, or their bias in doing so. Now it's all about the opinions.

It seems Randall needs to get out of your head. However, I think this is more of a problem regarding news channels as opposed to news shows. When trying to fill 24 hours of program time there is a tendency to fluff it out with opinion. But hard news certainly exists still, it is just it requires a longer production time and therefore can never satisfy the needs of a twenty-four hour broadcast. As podbaydoor mentioned, journalistic production costs have always been a problem, but I think those problems are compounded when you have an institution like CNN or FOXNews, where the hard/soft news ratio is pumped too far in the wrong direction.
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Re: The Media and 2000's Paranoia

Postby drunken » Mon Jun 21, 2010 9:05 pm UTC

Glmclain wrote:...largely driven by the media in an attempt to get ratings...


I believe it is far more sinister than this. It is about power not ratings. People often forget what a powerful tool the media are for control.
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Re: The Media and 2000's Paranoia

Postby shadowdemon » Tue Jun 22, 2010 3:04 am UTC

I must agree with Drunken. The structure of media ownership in the US screams power consolidation. A mere 7 companies own virtually all of it. This number can be upped to 11 for purposes of control of information, as there are four major independent newspapers. What this means is that you will almost never see information that goes strongly against the ideas of the people who run these 11 corporations that supply us with information. If those 11 corporations (or a good majority of them), all agree that the US should go to war with country x, then by golly they are all going to start running reports that cast country x in a bad light. If they all agree that the important thing about the president is that he's charismatic, eloquent, and well spoken then hey that's going to be Obama's image. If instead they had decided to mince through his ever decision and look for things to attack then hey, he would have gotten negative media over something so minor as to what entree he orders at a diner, ala John Edwards.

In a world where people are more clocked into media then any other time in history, 11 corporations (7 disincluding newspapers(6 disincluding radio)) control all of the major official channels of information and entertainment. They own everything from musicians to comedians to reporters. Yes, I'd say it's about power.

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Re: The Media and 2000's Paranoia

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Tue Jun 22, 2010 3:21 am UTC

shadowdemon wrote:In a world where people are more clocked into media then any other time in history, 11 corporations (7 disincluding newspapers(6 disincluding radio)) control all of the major official channels of information and entertainment. They own everything from musicians to comedians to reporters. Yes, I'd say it's about power.

You've jumped from 11 companies controlling the US media to these 11 companies controlling the world media. How do you figure?
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Re: The Media and 2000's Paranoia

Postby meatyochre » Tue Jun 22, 2010 3:26 am UTC

Pez Dispens3r wrote:
shadowdemon wrote:In a world where people are more clocked into media then any other time in history, 11 corporations (7 disincluding newspapers(6 disincluding radio)) control all of the major official channels of information and entertainment. They own everything from musicians to comedians to reporters. Yes, I'd say it's about power.

You've jumped from 11 companies controlling the US media to these 11 companies controlling the world media. How do you figure?

It's valid if you consider that US = the world. Otherwise, I'd say it's a typo.
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Re: The Media and 2000's Paranoia

Postby shadowdemon » Mon Jun 28, 2010 12:34 am UTC

Whoops, sorry yeah that was a typo. I should've specified US media in that sentence.

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Re: The Media and 2000's Paranoia

Postby mosc » Tue Jun 29, 2010 2:59 pm UTC

I've always wanted to make a video out of news show clippings all featuring the theme "Stay tuned! What you don't know might kill you!". Lots of "after the break, we'll tell you which household cleaning product may cause cancer" or "coming up, find out which children's toy could be life threatening". It's comical to me, and I think if you put enough of them together, it would be very humorous. Course, I suck at video editing as well as tracking down all those clips so I'm too lazy to bother...
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Re: The Media and 2000's Paranoia

Postby drewster1829 » Fri Jul 09, 2010 3:37 pm UTC

This makes me think of the most generic news report. :D

Sorry if this has been posted elsewhere (I can't remember if I first saw it on xkcd or somewhere else).
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Re: The Media and 2000's Paranoia

Postby phonon266737 » Sat Jul 10, 2010 8:44 pm UTC

Maybe we should all stop watching the news and go about our lives in ignorance!
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Re: The Media and 2000's Paranoia

Postby Iceman » Sun Jul 11, 2010 4:58 am UTC

I think it's more a matter of choosing the news programs or sites which sensationalize the least.

They deliver what people respond to, so its really just a matter of collectively rejected the sensationalism and speculation journalism. Easier said than done, but that's all it takes

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Re: The Media and 2000's Paranoia

Postby Sockmonkey » Sun Jul 11, 2010 5:38 am UTC

Stripper newscasters man, it's the only way.

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Re: The Media and 2000's Paranoia

Postby sje46 » Sun Jul 11, 2010 6:56 am UTC

Sockmonkey wrote:Stripper newscasters man, it's the only way.

Google "Naked News". It's as hot as it sounds. "Kinda hot".
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Re: The Media and 2000's Paranoia

Postby drewster1829 » Mon Jul 12, 2010 7:50 pm UTC

phonon266737 wrote:Maybe we should all stop watching the news and go about our lives in ignorance!


Whenever I watch the news I feel even more ignorant. 8)

Unless I go read some /. articles or something, but even then...
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Re: The Media and 2000's Paranoia

Postby GoC » Sun Aug 01, 2010 12:32 am UTC

Indon wrote:
Tomo wrote:As long as they have a choice in whether or not to cause said detriment to themselves, I honestly don't see a problem with doing this.


The concept of choice rather starts to get fuzzy when it comes to targeting things like instincts, reflexes, and so on - to the point where it can start to sound less like a meaningful concept and more like an excuse for people to abuse others so long as they can find a good opening.

Indeed. Humans think that they generally make rational decisions* (the only definition of "free will" I know of is essentially "rational") while they are in fact really really really bad at it (just read any book on biases**). To use an analogy let's pretend there's a person who does almost anything told to them with a stern expression and a commanding voice***. Another person orders the first to buy this new fancy car or to elect them as dictator for life with full knowledge that they will comply. Should the person giving the order be prosecuted?

* many people never even use anything but their heuristics to go about life

** any of the books mentioned on the bottom of this page should work, here's another list

*** this is quite close to the truth (and that's just one way people can be manipulated!)
And if you argue they still have a choice then why would a mind control drugs be unethical? You could still in theory choose not to obey but you always will****.

**** People can be given commands and then later on make up a justification for why they followed those commands. Believing all along that they were acting of their own free will (this is a well-documented phenomenon but I can't remember it's name so no source just yet).

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Re: The Media and 2000's Paranoia

Postby unus vox » Sun Aug 01, 2010 5:56 am UTC

I agree that fear mongering can be found in the media, and news organizations often invoke fear and suspense as a way of catching the audience's attention. On the other hand, I strongly disagree that it has to do with an absence of authentic threats.

There are plenty of real world threats to us as a society (interpret that word however you want) and as individuals. They may not always be life threatening, but they are surely alarming. True, we are not explicitly in a battle of superpowers at the moment, with someone's proverbial finger on the red button. And yet, looking in the international, world, and even the business section of a newspaper can yield some real causes for concern on a fairly regular basis.

Getting back to your main point, though... yes, I see hyped up fluff pieces that prey on the anxieties of a reader/viewer. I tend to see this more in broadcast journalism than in print, but it still has a strong presence in newspaper. On the bright side, perhaps, I don't believe this is as intentional as you seem to think it is. Most journalists are simply looking for two things in a story: something new and something exciting. Therefore, when digging for leads, an otherwise mundane topic may be presented as something (unjustly) exciting, or presented in a new light. This is not to suggest that journalists lie, but as they are pressured to "sell a story" they may look for items that could have some sort of shock factor.

Why is this only happening now? After all, news organizations did not always seek to shock us beyond that which was truly shocking in itself (and for that matter, that which was actually newsworthy). My belief is that the general populace--the collective audience--has grown progressively more lazy and apathetic in their disposition toward the news. More and more people seek their news through "edutainment" and there are simply not as many people who pick up a newspaper or sit down to watch the evening news. Compounded with the reality of diversification--growing news sources and media all competing for a viewer's attention--I can see why news outlets feel the need for a "hook." Telling the news simply isn't enough anymore; the audience needs to be compelled to read on. Sadly, that seems to be at the cost of the news itself.
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Re: The Media and 2000's Paranoia

Postby Steroid » Sun Aug 01, 2010 4:16 pm UTC

As to the original question of, "Have things changed vis-a-vis media since the end of the cold war," I would say yes, but not because of that. It's more the transition to 24-hour cable and radio news. Internet-based news sites don't do that as much, but they often take their cue from the tv and radio media. Which is why I laugh when I hear a journalist say that Internet news will never survive without traditional media doing the legwork. We don't need the kind of legwork done for the Stranger/Pedophile/Video Game story. All we want are the facts.

As to manipulative communication, sorry but in my view this is a case of sink or swim, Darwin in action. If a human being is so gullible that he can be manipulated to his detriment by the coloration of the facts more so than the facts themselves then he deserves to suffer detriment. Get them out of the way and let skeptical thinkers advance. The news should not be dumbed down or forced into a structure for the benefit of the credulous.

On the other hand:

sje46 wrote:Teaching the controversy. There is no controversy about evolution. If you don't believe in evolution, you're an idiot. News stations don't care! They will put a complete moron up there with a respected scientist, and you know what will happen? Simply putting them on the same level will make a person wonder if the scientist is an elitist who lives in another world, or is paid off. Same thing with autism. There is no evidence that there is a connection, but put a celebrity mother of a son she thinks suffers from autism with a highly respected and intelligent expert on the matter, and the public will side with the passionate mother against the man, trying to silence her. Even though "the man" is actively giving her a voice, for the ratings.


!This. One can be a non-idiot and not believe in evolution. It requires a philosophical decision that places faith over science, but that is not idiocy--it is a valid choice that, at least in the realm of evolution, does not hamper one's ability to function in society. I'm not sure what your claim is on autism, that it does not exist (I'm not sure), or that it is not caused by vaccination (I do not think it is). In this case, it is a choice that matters to the welfare of a child, but that's no reason to prevent each side from having their innings. Show the crying woman, and show the hard science, and let the viewers weigh by their standards and values.

People love having their beliefs confirmed, and most people will ignore evidence against their own beliefs. This is called the confirmation bias. But to actually give these idiotic beliefs creedence in the mainstream media will make the entire country dumber, and much worse off. Kids are being taught creationism, kids are dying from easily preventable diseases, Republicans are stalling on important legislation in Congress, and gays can only marry in a handful of states in the country. Why? Partly because idiots are allowed a voice on networks that should focus on the truth, and shouldn't focus on money. We'd still have these issues if CNN and Fox News etc were intellectually honest, but they wouldn't be as bad as they are now


And !this also. What you call truth I call liberal political opinions, and claiming them as objective truth is an attempt to short-circuit discussion and institutionalize your values. Creationism is a philosophical issue. Disease is a personal and social issue. Legislation and gay marriage are political issues. In those types of issues there are multiple viewpoints based on limited information, personal values, and inductive logic. You're using the word "idiot" to mean, "person who is morally wrong by my standards," and that's cheating. If you're right, have a fair, open discussion and put your ideas into play in your life, and your ideas will win the day. If you're wrong, you may learn what is right.

Yes, it is unethical. No, it doesn't matter if it's giving the people what they want. Isn't it unethical if twisted the words of the president so it looks like aliens exist, just to satisfy the conspiracy theorist? Wasn't Loose Change, with its many, many logical fallacies but very convincing rhetoric, highly unethical for putting so much doubt in the truth about Sept 11?

No, it was not unethical; it was merely incorrect. People who believe in 9/11 conspiracy theories are odious to me. I would not let them in my home or do business with them. But I do not wish, nor do I think I have the right, to alter their opinions by culling opinions from the arena of argument. Such a cull is unethical. The solution to bad speech is more speech.


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