Tuesday, October 31, 2006

First One

Has anyone noticed how overtly political nearly every media outlet has become? While there are the obvious extreme arch-conservaties (Fox News, Wall Street Journal, Washington Times) and obvious extreme leftist organizations (New York Times, NPR), it seems as though every media organization now leans strongly one way or another. It is hard not to see the competition between the right-leaning Boston Herald and the left-leaning Boston Globe. And while ultra-conservative talk radio dominates the dial (NPR is only a niche competitor), semi-liberal CNN dominates mainstream web reporting.

Because of the recent rise in partisan media, the idea of "Truth" in journalism and reporting is something few Americans still believe in. Even a relatively neutral source such as MSNBC can no longer be counted on to give the news "the way it is." But the idea that this was ever true is absurd; from the coverup about JFK's obvious extra-marital dalliances to the generous non-focus on FDR's crippling disease, the media has never sought to give reality exactly the way it is. Instead, the media's job is to sell papers or advertising, not to fill Americans' lives with the one correct interpretation of the world around them.

In fact, some would argue that people are better off seeing and knowing about the obvious biases in reporting, rather than having it be hidden. However, while it is good for Americans to stop believing in Truth (with a capital T), there has been a tendency for people to gravitate toward only those media organizations that proclaim the beliefs they already hold. Just as a conservative from Middle America may only listen to Rush Limbaugh, a liberal from Cape Cod may listen only to NPR. This is a destructive trend, as it is a literal closing-off of American minds. With the biases and political leanings laid bare, most citizens now move only toward those reporters and analysts that most loudly proclaim their already ingrained and immoveable beliefs. The idea of "Fair and Balanced" reporting is gone, and so is the possibility (dream?) that Americans will actually see both sides of an issue before deciding which to believe.

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