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Correcting Some Basic Media Sins

Don Rose 25 October 2016 One Comment

By most national polls  respect for “the media,” among all political persuasions, is in the toilet. That’s because of the atomization of “media” collectively, from the proliferation of cable channels–especially the creation of strongly partisan ones–to websites, blogs and other creatures of the internet ( like the one you’re reading now).

There is no longer such thing as a universal  “truth” or “fact,” because we each get to pick our own and stick with it, verified by our medium of choice. Not even George Orwell could have foreseen this, but he came close.

Volumes have been written about all this, analyzing it in sophisticated detail, but I think any reader can agree with the basic observation–unless you personally are the possessor of the actual universal truth and know all the genuine facts. Congratulations.

confessional

This is prelude to a couple of ideas for media reform that all sides might agree with.

Having been glued to the political TV stations for months now–and past elections–I would love to see all stations and reporters adopt an “answer the question or else” policy.

We hear or read politicians and surrogates continually avoid answering hard questions by continuously changing the subject–pivoting is the word du jour–but it’s intentional evasion, and perpetrators invariably are permitted to get away with it even after a couple of honest tries.

Here’s my dream: The first time the respondent begins to “pivot” the questioner interrupts and says “you’re not answering the question” and asks it again. Comes pivot number two, the reporter interrupts and says “you’re still not answering–that’s strike two. One more and this interview is over.”

If pivot number three occurs, as it likely will, the reporter interrupts again and says “sorry you seem determined not to answer the question, so I am not going to let you continue.” Take the mic back or shut his down, turn to the camera and say “Congressman Smith refuses to answer my question and keeps  changing the subject, so there is no point in wasting your time or mine listening to him.”

All the stations would have to agree to this–which could be strengthened by permanently banning  further interviews with Congressman Smith if it occurs in two subsequent interviews.  Since so many politicians live by the media they purport to hate, it would force them to answer or never be heard again.

My other dream is easier to accomplish.

Media: please note more extensively the  genuine qualifications of the plethora of presumably expert “consultants” and “strategists” of all varieties whose opinions you  are thrusting on us. Sure, we all know Karl Rove and James Carville and numerous others from their past exploits–and we know where they stand. But all those folks we’ve never heard of–many of whom may be eminently qualified academically or through experience, while others are legends in their own minds. It can be done orally or with a crawl at the bottom of the screen and would be a genuine public service.

Breathe easy everyone–it’ll all be over in a couple of weeks.

Go Cubs!

**
Don Rose is a regular columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer

One Comment »

  • Mike Buck said:

    No “it” won’t be over in a couple of weeks. In some form or fashion “it” will continue, perhaps more intensely than ever. The divided state of the media is a symptom of a bigger phenomenon, the division of the American people over their concepts of government and culture. This will not be resolved on November 8th.

    As one wag put it “One has a sense that the public wants this election cycle to end, but likewise feels dread in anticipation of what will follow.”

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