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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-13-09 11:00 AM
Original message
Why we need the media to focus on the facts
http://mediamatters.org/columns/200908130008

Why we need the media to focus on the facts
Jamison Foser
2 hours and 49 minutes ago


In a conversation earlier this week about polls showing that large numbers of Republicans don't believe Barack Obama was born in the United States, I wondered how many of those respondents might not know that Hawaii is a state. That wasn't a shot at Republicans; I just think people in general know less about their country than we tend to assume.

The next day, The Washington Independent's David Weigel -- whose birther coverage has been indispensable -- pointed out a new poll showing that 8 percent of North Carolinians (and 11 percent of McCain voters in North Carolina) either think Hawaii is not part of the U.S. or are not sure.

Think about that for a minute. One in 10 McCain voters in North Carolina doesn't know that Hawaii is part of the U.S.


snip//

To be clear: Much of this ignorance is not the result of stupidity, and it is not the result of lack of interest. The details of public policy are quite complex. The vast majority of Americans simply don't have the time or the resources to develop a clear and thorough understanding of Medicare reimbursement rates, nuclear proliferation policy, the intricacies of the tax code, and the hundreds of other topics that affect their lives. That is, after all, one of the reasons we elect representatives.

snip//

Now, this doesn't have to be a problem -- which is great, because it's pretty much unavoidable. We choose a government to represent our interests, and we look to another institution, the media, to help us understand the issues well enough to make decisions about who should represent us.

Obviously, there are a few kinks in that system.

One of those kinks -- one that doesn't get much attention -- is the extent to which the media (and politicians and the people who work for them) overrate the amount of knowledge most voters have about politics and policy. You see it when they use insider jargon and acronyms in their reporting, assuming readers and viewers know what they mean. Do they? Do they really know what FISA is? Pay-Go? "Judicial activism"?

This overestimation of how much knowledge most people possess is one of the causes of the media's failure to clearly and consistently report the facts about health care. They don't understand how necessary it is. They think they can focus on horse-race political coverage of the debate. They think if they report the facts once, that's often enough. They think the fact that people are satisfied with their health insurance tells us something about the quality and reliability of that insurance -- though it clearly doesn't.

So the public, which -- again, understandably -- doesn't know much about a complex policy and lacks the time and resources to find out for itself, is exposed to a nonstop barrage of spin, misinformation, and outright lies about health care. And the media, overestimating how much people actually know, don't think they have to make the facts clear every day, over and over again. Is it really any wonder that people believe things that aren't true? Do we really need to relive the run-up to the Iraq war all over again?
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Doctor_J Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-13-09 11:08 AM
Response to Original message
1. But they won't
so this is a waste of time.
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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-13-09 11:09 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. So why respond? Your response was a waste of your time. nt
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Doctor_J Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-13-09 11:30 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. No, hopefully
these sorts of threads will stop cluttering up the board (The Media isn't reporting bad things about Repukes!! No, really!!)
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TxRider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-13-09 11:41 AM
Response to Original message
4. That would require actual Journalism
We don't have much of that any more...
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