More media bias discussion

More media bias discussion
The American press is obsessed with death, destruction and trouble, according to The New Republic’s Gregg Easterbrook. “Bias in favor of trouble” is what Howard Kurtz calls it today in his Washington Post column.

In his new book “The Progress Paradox,” Easterbrook argues that establishment journalists are obsessed with bad news because the elites they serve benefit from fear-mongering. Politicians hurl charges about how awful things have become, which gets them booked on talk shows. Interest groups seize on sky-is-falling reports to boost their fundraising. And newshounds themselves feel empowered because crises get their adrenaline flowing.

Journalists, Easterbrook says in an interview, “want their own work to be seen as important, as we all do. If you present something as scandalous or dangerous or frightening, that’s more compelling than a story about something that’s gone well.”

By reading the front pages, he says, “you’d get the impression that the world is going to hell.” As for cable news, “in a world of 6 billion people, something is always exploding or burning somewhere, and you get the impression everything is exploding or burning.”

In the world according to Easterbrook, almost everything is getting better: Deaths from heart attack, stroke and most cancers are down; every form of pollution except that from greenhouse gases has decreased. That, he writes, forces the media to focus on smaller and smaller dangers: “Brain damage from cell phones, extremely rare allergies, claims of all-new psychological complexes, strange turns of events that affect only tiny numbers of people — increasingly newspaper, television and newsmagazine reports dwell on one-in-a-million risks.”

This particular form of bias is noteworthy here, because it’s such a beautiful example of the failure of a Modernist, allegedly objective press. People aren’t stupid. They intuitively know things can’t be as bad as the steady stream of hopelessness we get from the media, and so they reject the source. Postmodernism doesn’t have a clear beginning, but one thing’s for certain. We’re living in it, because Modernism’s obsession with science, logic and professionalism — while surely producing many wonderful things for us — is also a miserable failure on many levels, especially those social. Aberration has always been one of the definitions of news, but the Modernist press has taken it to its logical conclusion: aberration is no longer aberrant.

And how dumb is that?

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