August 19, 2016

Bridging the gap between politics and the media

Alec Wilmot

With the internet at our fingertips there has never been a better time to take critical appraisal of politics and its players and sidestep the spin of media. Politicians and members of the media in nations all over the world maintain a ‘special relationship’ that works to a mutual benefit. Friendly press cover can engender closer working relationships with politicians and their staff who in turn preference certain journalists or institutions with exclusive interviews and insider knowledge. On the macro level this inevitable rubbing of shoulders can have profound effects. Don’t trust everything you read, the old saying goes, and this holds true for media consumption. Personal research to enrich one’s own understanding of issues can bridge the gap between what politicians say or profess to believe in, the way in which it is reported on by the media and something closer to the reality of a given situation. Media institutions really are the gate keepers to much of our knowledge of the modern world – such wide-reaching and impactful authority calls for scrutiny and objective reasoning, or better yet, increased personal agency. The internet is a tool that can be harnessed to get to the bottom of issues, be challenged on them and by them and so help one become not simply a passive consumer of information but a seeker of it. As with any tool, there is a level of skill required to use the internet effectively but an objective mindset and a healthy scepticism of information sources and knowledge of what biases might be at play will put one on the right track to broadening their knowledge base and developing an understanding of how issues interconnect, how they are tailored and presented by both politicians and the media and how, increasingly through social media, news consumption is ‘bubbled’ to re-enforce certain points of view. The business sense in this far-reaching phenomenon is obvious – feed social media users what they like and identify with. Make their use of the service enjoyable and conflict free. Social media will create for the user a re-enforcement bubble, an echo chamber for oneself all the people one likes and agrees with. Good for business and warm feelings, bad for critical thought. Researching all credible information on a topic, seeking out divergent opinions and learning topical history to reach a better understanding of political currents and policy will absolutely improve one’s ability to read and understand what is being propagated through the prism of the information feeding tube.


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