Media… Article from the Daily Vidette (ISU)



The following article was written by the Editorial Board of the Daily Vidette at Illinois State University.

I didn’t write this but fully agree with their thoughts.



People who are passionate about any current event, social issue or government policy would likely claim to have unique views and insights about the topic in question. There is no doubt that people get concerned about public issues for good reasons, but do people really choose what to be interested in? For most Americans, their interest on an issue depends almost completely on how much media attention it receives.

The fact that mass media can control people’s interests and concerns is troubling. There is a direct correlation between how much media coverage a topic gets and the amount of public interest for related issues. People may also base their opinions on very little information. Sound bites are shorter than ever, people trust Buzzfeed for news and many get their news from Twitter headlines (neglecting to click the link to the full article).

When the media has so much influence over the public’s opinions and concerns, it is disturbing just how biased news outlets can be. People often go to the news outlet that will reinforce their way of thinking, raising public polarization of opinion. When biased news organizations like MSNBC and Fox News use their influence to focus public interest on certain issues and back them up with unfair reporting, it erodes the public’s ability to make their own judgments. These news outlets don’t trust our ability to make decisions; if they did, they would provide us with fair and unbiased reporting.

At least when the media is covering political and social issues, people pay attention to things that matter. In recent years, however, news organizations that are taken seriously often stray from hard news and focus on entertainment. This creates an entirely new problem where the media shifts the public’s attention away from the pressing subjects of the day. This may be why many people know more about Kanye West’s 2020 platform than those of the current 2016 presidential candidates. A great example is the now famous incident where MSNBC cut into an interview about the NSA to cover Justin Bieber’s arrest.

When the media controls interest on important issues and events, key topics do not get attention for long enough. The model of many major news outlets is to keep the new material coming before people get bored and lose interest. This creates an uninformed public with short attention spans. There is often not enough time for people to fully digest an issue and make an informed opinion of it before moving on to the next one.

We need to be careful where we get our news. We need to pay attention to make sure we are receiving news that is unbiased, thoughtful and in-depth. In a world where the media controls public interest, we must make sure we are receiving the best information.