Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Our Disinterested Media

Veering Towards Sociopathy

It's a universal truth apparently: everyone believes the media are biased.  Except the media--at least officially and formally.  

The closest we have seen to public acknowledgement of media bias by the media is the Daily Mail.  It kindly gives a listing of columnists and bloggers who are published in that paper.  It has a category called "Rightminds Bloggers".  There is a whole other collection of columnists who are in no special category at all.  By implication, one assumes that all others, not listed in the "Rightminds" category, are "Leftminds".  The Mail, however, apparently believes that these folk are not biased at all.

The media in general has high self-regard and would tell anyone who listens that the media are thorough going professionals without bias of any sort.  Its only bias is to be professionally unbiased.  Now you just know that's codswallop.  Insofar as the belief may be genuinely held, it amounts to self-deceit, or at best a lack of self-awareness that moves towards sociopathy.

Liam Hehir puts it this way:

It is not that we should not trust the media. News consumers rely on the media getting it right regularly and with justification. When reading a news story, we assume that the names, dates and basic descriptions are correct. And they usually are - but thanks to an awful lot of tedious triple-checking by the reporter.

When you think about the deadlines involved, it's an everyday miracle.  But proclaiming (or seeming to be proclaiming) incontrovertible truths on controversial issues is a different matter. The fact checkers may be compromised by their own view of the issue.  There will always be the temptation to short circuit debate by characterising subjective policy preferences as questions of fact.  [Stuff]
The media are represented by a majority of actors who regard themselves as part of the intelligensia.  They regard themselves as neither left, nor right--but occupy the "reasonable, fair minded, middle ground".  They are anything but.  For one, they are largely crypto-Marxist in their wider world view.  Class consciousness is a thing amongst them.  Conspiracies exist and hold significant sway over the planet--apparently.  Money and power are conspiring against the little guy--and so on.  They are on a mission to "speak truth to power".
And groupthink can also be a problem given the media is not ideologically diverse. This is something many journalists will openly admit is an issue. Those who do not are in denial of the empirical evidence they claim to love so much.

A 2014 Massey University study, for example, showed that 22 percent of New Zealand journalists considered themselves Centrists. Just 16 percent said they were on the Right and fully 62 percent said they were on the Left. Looking at the last decade of election results, do those percentages reflect the sensibilities of modern New Zealand?

In the last American election, a staggering 96 per cent of donations made by journalists went to Hillary Clinton.
Yet, these same folk resent the merest hint that they are preconceived and biased when it comes to their reportage.  That's the lack of self-awareness we have spoken of which veers towards sociopathy.  

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