Friday, September 23, 2005

Friday Free-For-All
Manufacturing the News

Bruce Thornton wrote a good piece yesterday on Victor David Hanson’s web site called Sobriety Lost: How our newspapers create opinion and then report it.

In it he starts with an analogy.

Imagine that you started receiving letters in the mail accusing your neighbor of being a child molester. Occasionally you receive photographs or even a video showing the neighbor with a child on his lap or dressed up like a clown at a children's party. After a couple of weeks of this, someone then phones you to ask if you think your neighbor is a pedophile. What percentage of us do you think would say yes?

His view is that this is exactly how the major news organizations manufacture news again and again. His point is not so much that the news outlets make up facts to report (although sometimes they do resort to that) but rather that they latch onto facts that support an opinion that they agree on and report them over and over.

Then, after people have been bombarded with these facts for a while, they take a poll, the results of which become the BIG STORY. Then they yell, “See, See, even the people agree with us!”

Because the news media so rarely explores the facts behind the events that make up the reported news, he proposes that they effectively manufacture the news.

It sounds like a twist on that quote that is usually attributed to Hitler’s Propaganda Minister, Joseph Goebbels. Only today’s version is, if you repeat an opinion loud enough and often enough people will believe it is fact.

I think he makes an interesting point. But that’s just my opinion.

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