Tuesday, November 3, 2009

You and Media

Not always but more and more often I cringe when I hear or read about "The Media."

Usually the reference is under the context of the Big, Bad Mainstream MediaTM blowing something out of proportion.

By way of disclosure, I must come clean and admit that I myself have been guilty of such thinking. In the 24-hour news circle of life what journalists cover often gets amplified in our collective psyche.

I roll my eyes like nobody's business when television talking heads put their best "I'm shocked" lilt in their voice as they jovially discuss the topic du jour.

One need only think about recent (and not-so-recent) "hammer heads" to understand and nod one's own head in stiff-necked anxiety: Terrorism, Abduction-Murder, Pandemic.

But then I think: Newspapers are dying! Professional media - people paid to research, edit and produce stories about current events - itself has become endangered.

I must also admit, it has been a while since I've watched television news, or read the New York Times from cover to cover. I can't remember the last time I sat down with The New England Journal of Medicine or The Lancet without having been called into a doctor's office a few minutes later.

Like many folks these days, I get the majority of my news now from YOU in the bloggesphere.

Sure ... many of the links I click lead to stories in one Post or another. Some lead to peer-reviewed medical journals. But many lead to the great, big interconnected Web of us.

Whatever IT is, I -- like you, the new media -- Tweet and re-Tweet it; paste it into my Facebook page; put my concerns about it in essay form, complete with first-hand experience and links to other blogs. I discuss everything in minute detail, then show you where you, too, can find out more ... usually another blog. In addition to alerting others to the original news story, we provide analysis and directions on where to go to engage in heated argument.

These days, much of what I know about healthcare, foreign policy, parenting, shopping, corporate ethics, the common cold, vitamin D, green smoothies and how swine flu is spreading, has come from you - my Internet community.

Yes, we are the new media.

We pride ourselves in being smart, articulate and unafraid to speak our minds.

Some of us are journalists, that is true. Some of us are also doctors, scientists and statisticians. Those and many, many more of us, here in the ethosphere, however, are just folks with opinions.

Likewise, fewer and fewer of us (as a nation) are studying science or mathematics in school. Fewer of us even understand imperical formula. We trust our instincts and our inner voices. We look to pat each other on the back. We seek like minds.

So when we talk about the media and how it slants, when we point a finger, we should be looking in the mirror at ourselves.

We are the way information spreads.

Virally, imperfectly and with a heavy dose of bias.

When we speak of how the media is scaring the pants off of us, we must remember that while the message might have originated from The Big Bad MediaTM the interpretation likely came from a more "trusted" source: YOU and MEdia.


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