Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Enquirer's Bellwethers Blog Series Demonstrates Public's Ignorance

The overall point I find hovering over nearly all of the stops the Enquirer's Jane Prendergast makes on her Bellwethers tour of Ohio is that people are vastly ignorant of political issues. Just because they have an opinion, doesn't mean it is an informed opinion. What is demonstrated most is that people can only understand what they see 5 feet in front of of them. That's an over the top metaphor, but on track. Most of the people interviewed seem to exist only in the limited experiences of their lives. They are cut off from the wider parts of the State, let alone the country or the world.

Some talk about not understanding something because they don't "know" anyone who fit into a specific situation.  I am guessing they don't have many friends or live in such an isolated or homogenized community that they are just ignorant.

One lady is so ignorant (or worse) that she still believes the President was not born in the United States.  I am guessing she is not delusional.  If I assume that and I assume that type of belief is not code for racism, then I would presume she doesn't consume enough or accurate news sources.  Anyone left believing the President was not born in Hawaii is either delusional, extremely ignorant, a racist (therefore also delusional) or playing around for affect.

I realize the blog posts are limited glimpses of each person interviewed and don't provide larger transcripts of the conversation, but I am trust the reporter's ability to provide an accurate interpretation of the interaction.  I hope the thing that the reporter, Jane Prendergast, takes back to her editors is that the news media needs to do a better job of educating the public.  It is no longer good enough to report that people have two opinions on the location of the President's birth.  Journalism must present the facts and keep reporting the facts, no matter how many crackpots creep out with promises of controversy and an increased audience.

We need journalism to do better to educate the public on facts and stop pretending there is always a debate on the facts.  Often there is a disagreement on the facts of a situation, like the horse race of an election or what the best policy should be.  The existence of a disagreement does not warrant underplaying facts.  Water is wet, the earth is not flat, Elvis is dead, and you can't dance on the head of a pin.  Journalists don't even alluded to those being false.  If you read a story where a debate on a fact like that is even mentioned, then that story was not written by a journalist.

It takes judgement on defining those facts.  But that judgement is based on evidence, not popular vote.  The public is filled with too much ignorance and reporting the ignorance with equal standing as the fact just makes the public more ignorant.

Yes, I watched The Newsroom's latest episode. I wish all Journalists watched it, but also lived it.

1 comment:

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