Perspectives: The good news, our media choices are expanding

Stock image, St. George News

OPINION — It’s hard to believe that just one year ago, the federal trial for several members of the Bundy family was getting underway in Las Vegas.

Among the many surprises and one of the lessons that came out of that trial was the unmistakable desire for credible, truthful media coverage. While there were a number of national and regional media outlets present for the trial, the public was not entirely dependent upon them for information.

I was among a number of individuals and organizations who harnessed the power of social media to share a narrative of the proceedings without first having to run it through the mass media’s ideological filter. Two things stood out to me as noteworthy.

First, the number of people following the story via alternative outlets started modestly and then grew exponentially. The Facebook Live video updates that I did began with a few hundred to a few thousand viewers but by the end of the trial were pulling views in the hundreds of thousands.

Many of those who shared the updates did so because they were getting information directly from members of the Bundy family and others who were there in the courtroom. When a development broke, these alternative sources would have the story out in a matter of minutes.

Secondly, mainstream media outlets lamented that it was as if there were two parallel universes when it came to getting the information to the public—theirs and the grassroots media. Despite this information divide, both of them had elements of truth as well as elements of bias.

But only one of these universes was willing to admit their bias and let their viewers and readers make their own determinations. The official narrative could no longer be contained to one that was favorable to those in power.

Ultimately, when the mainstream news outlets reluctantly began quoting our alternative outlets, it was clear that we were having the right kind of impact. The numbers merely confirmed that people were availing themselves of the newly emerging media.

This has caused considerable concern among those who populate the power centers which have come to count on mass media to keep the public safely within the boundaries of allowable opinion.

Historian Tom Woods sums up how this works on both the left and the right:

On the left, sites like ThinkProgress and Media Matters smear and attack those uppity peons who stray from the ideological plantation that the Washington Post and the New York Times oversee. On the right it’s neoconservative sites like the Free Beacon, who have built a nice little cabin on that plantation, and who rat out anyone who tries to run away.

The enforcers of allowable opinion seldom burden themselves with trying to present a coherent deconstruction of ideas or arguments with which they disagree. It’s usually enough to smear dissenting viewpoints as being “extremist” without ever having to specify exactly what makes them so.

Even local media occasionally falls prey to the desire to conceal dissent for the sake of pleasing advertisers or local authorities.

To be certain, there is no shortage of pre-polarized media, including blogs, websites and social media channels to feed our favorite fears and frustrations. Some social media outfits who are already allied with the systems that wish to rule us have been only too glad to impose their own versions of ideological purity upon their users.

Their purge of what they deem unpopular or extreme opinions has shown that they consider the free exchange of ideas too dangerous for us to handle on our own. But do we really need philosophical shepherds to protect our fragile minds?

Even Noam Chomsky has warned about the dangers of artificially narrowing the spectrum of political thought:

The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum – even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.

The onus of vetting whatever information we are receiving falls directly upon our own shoulders. This is how it should be. Anyone foolish enough to implicitly trust another person or information outlet to do their thinking for them is asking to be misled.

The fact that there are sometimes bizarre and often incomplete narratives being promoted across the entire media spectrum is not an excuse to call for greater uniformity in the information being offered. It’s a perfect opportunity for the market to provide what is needed through competition.

The value of competing viewpoints in the marketplace of ideas can be summed up in the word “decentralization.” The truth is never at a disadvantage under such conditions.

So what exactly might that look like?

I’ll touch on one such project in a future column.

Bryan Hyde is an opinion columnist specializing in current events and liberty viewed through what he calls the lens of common sense. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

Email: bryanh@stgnews.com

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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2 Comments

  • Redbud October 29, 2018 at 7:55 pm

    The first thing the liberal media did after the attack on Pennsylvania, was blame President Trump. Fine example representative of their non-existent morals. There is no hope for them.

  • commonsense October 30, 2018 at 3:12 pm

    I g. I get most of my news from social media. That way the commercial factor is eliminated and the and there is always opportunity for rebuttal and comment. For example, when POTUS tweets Tweets it is directly from him and not filtered by CNN to fit it’s narrative and thus
    receive ccompensation from its sponsors.

    News services use to be profesional but they have fallen to pay for service twisters of
    Of truth to satisfy a segment willing to pay for it.

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