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Why I generally don't listen to TV news, read the paper, or listen to the radio - Journal of Omnifarious

May. 9th, 2005

07:43 pm - Why I generally don't listen to TV news, read the paper, or listen to the radio

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Basically for the reasons that Noam Chomsky outlines here.

These outlets controlled by large economic interests report what either the owners or advertisers would prefer they report. That is chiefly who they write for. Their only interest in us is trying to put enough there that we want to see that we'll be willing to watch the advertisements.

John Stewart is well aware of this, at least to an extent, because he pointed out on Crossfire that the show is basically entertainment that reduces opposing viewpoints to matters of style, not substance. And in pretending to be a serious show in which opposing viewpoints are honestly debated, it debases true democratic discourse. In effect, Crossfire and The Daily Show are in the same business.

Current Mood: [mood icon] contemplative

Comments:

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From:anansi133
Date:May 9th, 2005 08:15 pm (UTC)
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The difference (if there is one, if it's important) is that the Daily Show doesn't pretend to be a serious source of news. It's letting us know what we're missing, without trying to fill in that gap. The only TV news show I know of that tries to address that need, is Democracy Now on (some) public access cable channels.
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From:omnifarious
Date:May 9th, 2005 08:28 pm (UTC)
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*nod* I agree.

Chomsky's biggest problem is that he then turns around and uses that to try to show that the news media is biased against some horribly brutal regimes when they claim communism as their inspiration, and biased for brutal regimes when they claim capitalism as their inspiration. Now, he may be right in this, but he comes off as a biased nutcase for even attempting to defend the horribly brutal communist regimes.

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From:anansi133
Date:May 10th, 2005 11:06 am (UTC)
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he comes off as a biased nutcase for even attempting to defend the horribly brutal communist regimes.
That sounds like triangulation to me; I haven't heard him defend anybody in power.

The thing I have to keep reminding myself about Chomsky, is that he's not into prescriptive activism in any meaningingful way at all. His big thing is diagnostic activism. There's a whole bunch of other people out there who have ideas about a better way to do things, who aren't as good as he is about telling us what's wrong with the way things are being done now.

The least productive, IMNSHO, is people who love to diagnose other people's prescriptions. "That will never work because..."

It's a big pond. Chomsky's got a place in it, but there's plenty more niches to fill.
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From:memegarden
Date:May 10th, 2005 12:44 pm (UTC)
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So, what do you consider good ways to get news? And, if this isn't the same thing, how do you get your news?
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From:omnifarious
Date:May 10th, 2005 03:14 pm (UTC)
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I'm not sure about good ways to get news. I can only say how I get it.

I rely on friends, their blogs, and certain online news sources. I know all of these will be biased, and I filter for that bias. Many of them also have places for people to comment, and that often makes for a good handle for finding out the other side of a story.

For example, when I posted that bit from the Washington Times, I knew the Washington Times wasn't the most reputable news source, but I didn't know why. After you pointed out why, it helped me a lot in evaluating the story and looking for supporting or contrary evidence. I could only find evidence from other sources that loosely supported the story, and no evidence that contradicted the story. Paradoxically, it gave me cause to be more convinced than I was at first that the story is at least partly true.

And I got the story in the first place from a random conversation with someone in a coffee shop. :-)

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From:agnosticfont
Date:May 10th, 2005 04:51 pm (UTC)
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You could try the BBC World Service.

Its a radio/Internet service thats well known for being impartial and only reporting known facts. They are generally listened to a lot in war zones and regions with political unrest because of that impartiality and because they dont report "the soldiers are taking over the city" unless its been proved (rather than reported by an "embedded' reporter).

They were widely listened to in China during the tiananmen square uprising and the war in yugoslavia.

It *is* funded by a government tax but they only get the money if they can prove their impartiality.

The guy that runs craigslist is talking about starting a community news service where local people report on big stories (mainly involving corruption etc). More info - here.

I probably sound like a bleeding heart but if theres one good thing that Britain has done in the last 30 years - its keeping the World Service going.
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From:(Anonymous)
Date:May 14th, 2005 01:49 pm (UTC)
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I've been using the New York Times for news. They're certainly a lot better than CNN, in that NYT generally will not report on garbage like Scott Peterson or Michael Jackson. However, they are known to have a liberal bias. I am considering getting a subscription to the Wall Street Journal to counteract that.

IMO, getting news just from friends and blogs is not going to paint a more accurate picture of the world than a major newspaper like NYT, even if NYT is biased. It seems to me that the best thing to do is to read from a few sources that are biased in separate directions, then resolve the discrepencies yourself.

Regarding Jon Stewart, his performance on Crossfire is only one small example of his crusades against the media. He constantly ridicules all the cable networks on the Daily Show (he seems to think that the broadcast networks are a lot better) and comments on it all in more depth in his book. Of course, both of these are presented as comedy, but it's generally not to hard to see his real message underneath that.

-Kenton
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