Which Metaphor Works Best Here?

A good rant from The Carpetbagger Report about the media's tendency to focus on trivia at the expense of what matters.

Read it, then help me out: is this the modern equivalent of bread and circuses? Or the opiate (or is that Oprahate?) of the masses?

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4 Responses to Which Metaphor Works Best Here?

  1. Andrew says:

    Hey – we live in a libertarian capitalist society. People who watch the news are adults – obviously the MSM is just putting out what the greatest segment of the population wants to see. We can’t start engaging in paternalism by requiring them to show what we, based on our values, think is important. Sure, MSM television news can provide distractions, but there are a lot of advantages to television news – it can get to you a lot faster than articles in newspapers for one thing. If the MSM didn’t cover things like Britney and ANS, maybe they wouldn’t have the money to provide live coverage of important events.

    Presumably, those who listen and question what’s going on will be able to avoid getting screwed too badly, and if they really care they can take responsibility themselves to get the message out. I mean, it’ll all get sorted out by the final exam, right?

  2. Michael says:

    obviously the MSM is just putting out what the greatest segment of the population wants to see

    That assumes that the owners are acting like profit-maximizers in the media market, rather than taking part of their possible profits and spending them on buying influence — or on influencing people.

    And it also assumes that they are smart capitalists. I don’t see why we should assume ABC is smarter than Ford or Chrysler. (Or why we can’t posit an effect akin to the business cycle in which media go through stupid phases.)

    But I do agree that the answer isn’t to be found in mandating content. It might be found in part in regulating market structure, to prevent the growth of large media conglomerates and thus increase innovation and competition. (I’m also lukewarm, but not cold, on the fairness doctrine. Seemed like a slightly dubious idea in principle, but not so bad in practice given the media we get.)

  3. anon says:

    Most reading this blog is probably familiar with RSS and the ease with which one can create her own “media” experience. Most Americans don’t know any better, or don’t have the time to seek better media/news.

    I go with the opiate metaphor, but it is a habit easily kicked nowadays with a little help form an RSS browser. I refuse to believe the elitist/euro notion that Americans are stupid, and therefore reject the circuses metaphor.

  4. hipparchia says:

    Media going through stupid phases probably explains part of it.

    I don’t have any hard facts and figures, just impressions from what I’ve read here and there, but it seems to be both easier and cheaper to produce fluff and trivia than it is to do solid journalism and real investigative reporting.

    I’m all for doing something about the huge media conglomerates, whether requiring them to provide certain content, or limit other content, or split them up into many smaller entities, or …. Still, I can get most of the information I need from the web, haven’t bought a paper or had a tv for years now.

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