Much of the world is mediated

August 16, 2007

Whatever is beyond our senses is not self evident. Much of the information about the non-self evident world is distributed through mass media. This, clearly, raises the possibility of manipulation, or at the very least, bias. The public is very much aware of this possibility – only about 25% of Americans state that their level of trust in newspapers and television is “a great deal” or “quite a lot”, with the rest opting for “some”, “very little” or “none”. The level of confidence has fallen over the years – 15 years ago the percentage of people with confidence in mass media was above 30.

The problem, however, is that there are many things about which there are no readily available alternative sources of information. The only simple alternative to trusting all the information in the mass media is therefore not trusting any of it. Trusting some of it and not trusting the rest is difficult because there is no easy way to distinguish between the credible and the suspect.

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