Mass Media: The News We Want You to Know

picture taken from news video at http://www.khon2.com/news/local/40518362.html

picture taken from news video at http://www.khon2.com/news/local/40518362.html

Last week during my stay in Hawaii, I was interviewed by Brianne Randle of KHON2, an affiliate of Fox News about homelessness in Hawaii and how it affects tourism. Apparently, there have been streams of discussions on expedia.com and tripadvisor.com about the homeless problem in Waikiki, which is discouraging tourism. Brianne pointed to a group of camping tents in an open field along the beach and asked if it bothered me at all and if it affected me as a tourist. I told her that before she told me that it was illegal and that these people were homeless, I was considering camping out for a night myself.

Media Spins the News, “you see it everywhere you go”

I spoke to Brianne on camera for at least five minutes discussing my thoughts on the situation. I explained that the homeless people on Waikiki Beach did not affect me but the only statement that they took out of the discussion was an out of context “you see it everywhere you go”. It made me seem like I was disgusted by the problem, which is very far from the truth. When I made the comment I was not talking about Hawaii, I was talking about the unfortunate reality that there are homeless people everywhere in the world.  I also told Brianne that the problem in Hawaii was made worse than it actually was because of the direction of the discussions on the travel site forums which gives the Waikiki Government a tremendous opportunity to join the forums and show all the positives about Waikiki so that it will retain it’s appeal to tourists.

The Media Spins Me Right Round, Like a Record

The reason I bring this up is to show how the media spins their stories to get whatever outcome they want. When Brianne asked me if the homeless problem affects me one way or the other, she may as well have asked “why does the homeless problem affect you as a tourist?” with the note that if it doesn’t bother you, she is not interested.

It’s Easy to Find a Source to Support your Story

For any story, you can always find sources to support any side of an argument. Even if 99% of the world feels one way, you can take the 1% who feels the other way and use them as your sources. You can also take the first 99% of people, cut and paste little pieces of what they say out of context and presto! You have your story supporting your original hypothesis.  Every book in Barnes and Noble has a quote from some publication on it making it seem like it is the greatest read since War and Peace.  There can’t be that many “best reads of the year”.

Mark Twain was quoted as saying “if you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed. If you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed.” He could not be more on the money.

Social Media is Taking us Back in Time

I love to tell the story of how social media is bringing us back to the days before mass media took over as our primary source of information. In the olden days, if someone wanted to get their story out, they would put together a pamphlet with their story on it and pass it around in the marketplace. Then someone else would come along and give out a pamphlet with their version of the story and maybe even a third or fourth person or more would do the same. People in the marketplace would be able to read multiple sides of the story and come to their own conclusions of what really took place. Along came mass media and started to deliver the “news” but it was from their perspective with their own biases and twists.

Blogs are the New Pamphlets

Today, we have access to thousands of blogs on any subject and no longer have to rely on mass media to “misinform” us. We can now read a few blog posts on any given subject and come to our own conclusions just as people did with pamphlets many years ago. By building up our own personal social networks and filling up our rss readers with what we consider reliable sources, we will become the most informed generation ever.

How do you feel about using mass media vs. social media to get informed? Please leave a comment.

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3 comments

  1. I am not surprised at all that Fox News would take something and twist and distort it to suit their purposes. I’m sorry it happened to you, though.

    How do I feel about mass media v. social media? Well, I’ve always been one to try and find out everything I can about something before coming to a conclusion on it so I think they both complement each other well. There can be blatant misinformation in both. I tend to look more into things if it sounds “hinky” to me and then go with the most credible source.

    Great post!

  2. I read several local papers online everyday and the New York Times. I trust The New York Times. If I read something on a blog, unless they supported what they said with a link to a place that I know, I would need to get confirmation of the facts.

  3. John, I wish I could be as confident in a newspaper as you are but unfortunately, I’ve seen the NY Times twist stories before. Truth be told, any news paper is put together by multiple journalists and each journalist has their own way of reporting the news.
    We are fortunate to to live in an age that we can research a topic or story for a few minutes and find out its accuracy. Obviously if you find a story on a no-name blog, you have to do some more digging than a major newspaper.
    Thanks for reading and commenting.
    -Amir

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