May 2013 – Mainstream Media Misinformation

papersAn extension of our March meeting on Evaluating the Evidence, this session looked at the problems with mainstream media and the pressures on its journalists from owners, advertisers, politicians, think tanks and others, plus  the need to cater to the whims of the buying public.

This is a brief overview of the discussion. More detail can be found here.

‘Mainstream Media’ was characterized, drawing in part from Chomsky, as:

  • under the control of relatively few people, generally either political leaderships pushing particular ideologies or corporate boards driven by economic gain;
  • motivated by self-interest, showing little concern for the very real information needs of their captive audiences;
  • often failing to provide a balanced and well researched viewpoint, choosing instead to offer dogma, distraction-based “entertainment” or thinly disguised advertising;
  • profit-driven and heavily influenced by the need to sell advertising;
  • prominently featuring violence and invoking stereotypes, particularly as regards women and the young;
  • freely using euphemisms/”doublespeak” [see Norman Solomon] and exhibiting bias (both of which were discussed at length, with numerous examples)
  • tending to repeat misstatements, guilty of censorship and omission, and given to trivialization. [See also James Tracy]