Category Archives: Media Criticism

Today’s Media

…reporting World War II. Strategy Page has given me a bunch of satirical essay ideas today:

HUNDREDS OF SAILORS STILL TRAPPED UNDERWATER

Victims’ Families: Pearl Rescue Efforts “Disgraceful”

WHISTLEBLOWER REVEALS SUPERBOMB PLANS

Catholic Bishops Condemn Secret “Manhattan Project”

FDR WITH MISTRESS IN DEATH ROOM

Warm Springs Scandal

Groupthink

FreeAlabamistan writes about the cult of the media.

Why are we watching AP repeat the same basic mistake that CBS committed with Dan Rather’s fake-but-accurate National Guard debacle?

Two words: “Everybody knows.” Anyone who has studied anthropology, sociology or mass psychology understands how false beliefs can become conventional wisdom within groups if (a) high-status individuals within the group advocate the belief, and (b) there is no one inside the group to dispute the false belief.

That, in short, is the herd-mentality explanation of why liberal bias pervades the MSM. It’s also the explanation of the Heaven’s Gate cult (whose members acted on the belief that they must commit suicide in order to be taken aboard a cosmic mothership traveling behind the Hale-Bopp comet). Where group membership is dependent upon shared belief, where skepticism of key beliefs is viewed as disloyalty to the group, and where non-believers are stigmatized, marginalized and excluded, the truth or falsehood of group beliefs is moot. Logic and evidence, so far as they might undermine belief, are unwelcome. This is how it becomes possible for groups to act upon false beliefs.

It’s one of those stories too good to fact check, because they want so badly to believe anything bad about Iraq (read: bad about Bush).

Too Many Cameras

And not enough words. Virginia makes a point that I was vaguely feeling on election day about PJM coverage:

Personally, I hated the PJM election coverage, because I don’t want to have to watch video online. I want to read, and PJM offered way too little written material. But with the right technology, video is much easier to provide–especially if you don’t care about shaky-cam production.

I want to read, too. Given a choice between watching a video (or even listening to audio) of people saying stuff, and reading a transcript, give me the transcript every time, unless there’s some particular reason to want to parse tone/expression, etc.

Save the video for things that need video (rocket launches, explosions, bikini contests, etc.) and give me text for more straightforward information.

I don’t take in and retain information that well through my ears. I always preferred to read the textbook to listening to a professor lecture. The baud rate is just too low. Similarly, whenever (say) Glenn links to something that looks (sounds?) interesting, and it turns out to be a podcast or video, there’s always this resistance to click, or wait for the words to dribble out, whereas if it’s to text, I eagerly read it. I don’t have time to listen to someone tell me something when I can read it much faster.

I hope that as voice recognition gets better, we’ll get more and better instant transcripts of talking-head stuff.