How much does what “news” has become, influence our future? Can we do better? Turns out we can fix the problem with news!
As you all know, the United States has just struggled through an election to bring either the first woman or the first person with no history of public service, to the most powerful office on the planet.
Either outcome would have been remarkably historic, but what important news did we miss by devoting so much air-time to politics for more than a year?
Did we celebrate any of the great innovations, discoveries or positive things that happened? Rarely, if ever.
So today, we dive in to try to sort this problem out.
I wrote this article on election night and promised myself not to touch it, no matter the outcome, because I wanted to present the following remarkable videos without bias. They tell us more about ourselves than we might ever be able to acknowledge.
First up, let’s take an interesting journey through time. I found a very concise, 5-minute video that will get us all up to speed on the history of “news” when it all started, a few hundred years ago.
I’m fairly well-educated and yet I had no idea this was the trajectory of things!
See what you think…It’s a little esoteric, but stay with it. I found this video from the Future Journalism Project Media Lab to be a nice little starting point for the main insights in today’s article!
It’s important to know how we all got into this mess we are in with our various news sources.
Really an interesting trajectory, huh?
So, now we are all news-makers, making news one-to-one! Sounds exciting, until you think about the responsibility inherent in that capability. Where does personal responsibility work it’s way into this new landscape?
And “truth?” When do we all start doing our homework a little? Do any of us actually check our facts before prattling on about something on Facebook?
Maybe this next quote from the respected Forbes Magazine gives us the scope of things:
“Nearly two-thirds of American adults – 62%– get news from a social media site, according to a new survey from Pew Research Center.”
EWC Life Hack Tip: It is incredibly easy to just hop over to Snopes.com and check the actual backstory to anything you hear on “the news”. Really! I suspect I do that a few times every single day. It takes seconds.
I can’t tell you how many times Snopes has saved me from publishing articles about things that were too good to be true.
Check it out some time. You’ll be the smartest person in the room forever after because you’ll have the backstory on half-truths!
Ok, let’s move on the real meat of this subject with one of the most revealing TED Talks out there. After I saw it for the first time, I felt like an insider. I watched my favorite news channels with fresh eyes.
Here’s something new to consider:
In doing the research for this article I learned something that is critical to finding our way forward: journalism has morphed into two very distinct formats.
Now there’s something called “narrative journalism” that is being confused with real journalism.
Real “journalists” work very hard NOT to telegraph their opinions. They have to look unbiased because they are trying to sell advertising to everyone, not alienate some people who might not return tomorrow. In mainstream media, the appearance of bias is very bad business.
But “narrative journalism” is different. They only intend to appeal to a certain group of people. It’s easy to recognize “narrative journalism” for it has a definite bias and agenda. Bias is expected and good for business on FOX and MSNBC, but on mainstream media, it’s a death-nail.
No matter which part of the political spectrum you are on, if you get your information from a source that is left or right leaning, then that’s news with a bias that will be hard to tease apart from the facts.
So we each have to be self-reflective about where we are getting our “news”, and take great care before we act on the opinions of the talking heads we feel most comfortable with.
Here’s Coleen Christie with a powerful TED Talk about the past, present, and future of “news”…
Our frequent readers know how much we love TED. Watching the above videos of theirs, how can you not? TED.com is one of the most interesting corners of the web. EWC features the best of their talks a couple of times each month. If I do say so myself, EWC and TED are the only places I have found where smart people, curious and hopeful, can always come away transformed. Check out our list of favorites from TED here! But let’s get back to the point…
So it’s all about “biases”.
Be honest: are you starting to un-friend people who post things on Facebook that you don’t agree with? Do you only like to get news from people who think like you do?
Coleen seems to have it right: We are human. We like pie or we like cake. Our personal preferences are going to force us to make our own “personal playlists” when it comes to knowledge and perspectives.
Here’s one of my favorite quotes that pertains to one possible future for our world:
“We risk being the best informed society that ever died of ignorance.” – Rubin
Hmmm. I suspect we will all need to be part of the solution to avoid the path we are on.
I loved Coleen’s recommendation: if everything in our news diet feels great, then we need to branch out. We all lose when our perspectives are myopic. We do learn more when we reach past our comfort zones.
Let’s battle our biases.
Stay open, curious and optimistic!
~ Dr. Lynda
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- “The History of News in Five Minutes.” YouTube. Future Journalism Project Media Lab, 09 Aug. 2012. Web. 12 Nov. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_eNCJrW62WY>. ↩
- Christie, Coleen. “Fixing the News | Coleen Christie | TEDxVancouver.” YouTube. TEDx Talks, 03 Mar. 2015. Web. 12 Nov. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NwmGTM5Py8Y>. ↩