The problem with cable news thinking
Not only the networks of all political persuasions that come to mind, but the mindset they represent...
When I was growing up, Eyewitness News always found a house on fire in South Buffalo. "Tonight's top story," Irv Weinstein would intone, "...a fire in South Buffalo." Every single night. If you watched the news from out of town, you were sure that the city must have completely burned to the ground.
Cable news thinking has nothing to do with fires or with politics. Instead, it amplifies the worst elements of emotional reaction:
If I wanted to hobble an organization or even a country, I'd wish these twelve traits on them. I wonder if this sounds like the last board meeting you went to...
- Focus on the urgent instead of the important.
- Vivid emotions and the visuals that go with them as a selector for what's important.
- Emphasis on noise over thoughtful analysis.
- Unwillingness to reverse course and change one's mind.
- Xenophobic and jingoistic reactions (fear of outsiders).
- Defense of the status quo encouraged by an audience self-selected to be uniform.
- Things become important merely because others have decided they are important.
- Top down messaging encourages an echo chamber (agree with this edict or change the channel).
- Ill-informed about history and this particular issue.
- Confusing opinion with the truth.
- Revising facts to fit a point of view.
- Unwillingness to review past mistakes in light of history and use those to do better next time.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Reposted from Seth Godin's blog: