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The Truth is Out There

Imagine a society in the future where the news is one big theatrical representation made to heart warm it’s populace, and the real news is much less popular and entertaining.

In True Enough:  Living in a Post Fact Society, author Farhad Manjoo slickly exposes the reader to a veritable jungle of truth versus opinion.  He sheds light on the how news organizations are slighting the public when reporting fact.

Manjoo explores a variety of different instances where the infosphere is manipulated in the name of viewership, allegiance, money or a combination of all three.

The sad part is that people are completely buying into it.

Manjoo’s account and interpretation of Lou Dobbs’ NAFTA story right in line with what quite a few host are doing when providing commentary to daily issues

He casts a thick shadow of doubt on modern-day reporting.  Journalism school teaches students of the profession ethics in the field, arming young, impressionable minds with do and don’t do lists.  But, ethics aren’t making it to the major leagues.

To fend off the internet, some news outlets are subtly siding with Republicans or Democrats, liberals or conservatives.  Political side taking is sky rocketing to unseen heights.

Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly, to name a few, report the news with a grain of conservative salt every night.

Other networks, like MSNBC, serve up left-leaning pundits like Keith Olbermann

Beck, as mentioned above, and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin both cater to a certain audience.  So, it’s no surprise that they’re serving up their own brand of reality.  The scary part is that people actually take their word as bond.  On more than one occasion, Beck has stated he’s merely an entertainer.

Beck and Palin join other names like Sean Hannity, Todd Schnitt and Rush Limbaugh as they spin their own versions of reality.  Just as the swift boaters did with their crusade against John Kerry, these individuals will stop at nothing to carry their conservative agenda to the willing audience.

If we end up with an army of so-called “entertainers” crooning the news, how will the real news spread, if at all?  According to Manjoo, this is how it might end up if people don’t stop consuming messages found strong and consonant.  By consonant, Manjoo means if the message supports a certain person’s views, and is easy to prove, that person will consume as much of it (the message) as possible.

Manjoo’s concept of weak and strong dissonant messages is furthermore apparent  in shows like Beck’s.  The fact that Beck is on the radio and TV makes it even worse.  It encourages these dissonant messages to flourish and thrive.  The audience gets the message twice a day.

TV news outlets and the hosts that they support are culturing what Manjoo calls naïve realism.  They are carving out a niche with their news.  If it leans a little left or right, they call it ok, and post it on the web.  It’s plain to see the naïve realism being driven home.

The concept behind Truthiness really drives the point home, though.  When Steven Colbert coined the term, he stated there are those who “think with their head” and those who “know with their heart.”  When that is applied to some of the concepts thrown out by hosts like Beck, it’s easy to see why there’s an increase in viewership of these shows over traditional news broadcasts.  They’re tuning out the real, and becoming complacent with the unreal.

Seen in this light, it’s almost clear why a station would chose to run a VNR or SMT (or both) over an actual news segment.  The thought alone is enough to chill the journalistic bone.  Could it be that the public is so lost on real news, that they need an opinionated host to guide their thoughts and values.  This sounds and looks like brainwashing, and really should upset any “real” journalist.

And, of course, it should be noted that the dirty work isn’t done solely by CNN and FOX – this phenomenon is happening worldwide due to the ease in which one can gather and post the news.  With the amount of outlets for news online, it’s amazing society isn’t more lost

Despite the questionable news viewing techniques people use, it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.  People are prone to take a side in any matter.

Often in high profile murder cases, the defendant will gain fans a la the infamous Casey Anthony case in Orlando.

It seems deviant.  It seems like people are afraid to look outside their bubble.

Maybe it’s human emotion drawing society into a strange new world of narrow mindedness.

Perhaps in the future, we’ll create our own news based on how we feel.


18 thoughts on “The Truth is Out There”

  1. I think you explained naive realism very well in your blog. I also like how you pointed out that we as students are taught to be ethical and fair in our reporting, yet that’s not the way it works in the journalism profession anymore. Overall, it was a great blog.

  2. I really enjoyed this post. He gave great details about the book and gave links if the viewer wanted to do more research. I also like the links to key words used in the book. He gave a great explaination of them in his blog and provided links for more information. Great job.

  3. Great post Evan! You condensed the Manjoo book really well and made it understandable. I like how you kept up with the different links, allowing your reader to better understand the information.

  4. Enjoyed the post, it was a good summary of the Manjoo text. I also liked how you pointed out the often denied but obvious fact that “ethics aren’t making it to the major leagues.”

  5. Real interesting opening line. You did a great job of re-telling the main points of Manjoo’s book without simply re-telling them, if that makes sense. Also, I like the evenly dispersed linkage throughout the article. Using links invites the reader to explore, and I think that’s key in this form of writing.

  6. Very impressive. I know it’s cliche, but I liked your X-Files themed title. Seriously though very well written. Clear, concise and well organized, so much so that the reader forgets they are reading a blog not an actual article.

  7. Great job Evan. Your Blog was easy to read and understand even though this is a long post. I also took a look at naive realism I agree that Manjoo’s book makes a great point of explaining it with examples.

  8. Easy read, amazing how you implemented Youtube, msn, and clips into article. Enjoy the sports metaphor “ethics not making it to the major league.” Nice job implementing Manjoo concepts to news entertainment. Interesting future outlook, “creating news based on how we feel.”

  9. Nice work Evan…you explained the manjoo book well and related it to things going on in today’s society. Also, once again, very nice headline making reference to the X-files.

  10. You deliver well written pieces every time! This post was very insightful and informative. I love how you used some of the terms in Manjoo’s book and tied it with current events. I’m still a fan of your work.

  11. I really liked how you tied in the book. Good organization and flow and perspectives on the book and the media. I really like the title as well. Fitting for the story.

  12. Great post. You covered well some of the main concepts in Manjoo’s book. You go in depth and take a good look at what’s happening in our society today.

  13. Your post was awesome. You covered the main ideas of the book and it was easy to read. Good job!

  14. You deliver every time! This was a well written and informative post. I love how you used terms from the book and tied it with current events. I’m still a fan of your work.

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