Monday, January 09, 2006

Impact of the Media

The title link goes to a comment by Nerdgirl from my post yesterday. I think she raises an interesting point about how "we", as a society, are informed about the goings on in our government. Sure, media covers things like Samuel Alito's confirmation hearings, but information about subtler things happening in the country and out government. Its clear that just watching CNN Headline News or Fox News isn't sufficient to adequately educate the public. Clearly, the news aims more to entertain. Society consumes news like it consumes any other form of media. Watching the local evening news in Illinois and Indiana gives a good example of this premise. They always start out with the big breaking story, followed by the lighter side of the news, which is broken up by sports and weather. What stands out here is the absence of more in depth information about the operation of local, state, and federal government. This isn't always the case though. For example, Chicago Public Radio and National Public Radio covered a story regarding catches gift of diesel fuel to the Chicago transit authority. This coverage delved into why the CTA initially refused, as well as the public discourse surrounding public opinion, and local politics, that eventually changed the CTA's mind. So the question, really, is how do we as a society want to be informed. Do we want the cookie cutter news or do we need to know the real issues?

As far as things like tort reform, its best we know who the players are, and how they operate in the system so "we", as a society, are informed of how this legislation will impact our ability to bring a lawsuit, or how much we will have to pay our doctors, or how much we have to pay for insurance. Should we be informed? Yes. But, should we rely on regular media to be informed?

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