When new media first exploded on the scene, observers speculated that it could enhance people’s access to political information and facilitate broader-ranging discussions and participation. But the reality has been different.
Those with down-the-line conservative or liberal views tend to closely follow government and political news, and drive discussion of politics online and in person.
It is a popularity contest
Despite their vast differences in political views, those with conservative and liberal perspectives have much in common when it comes to their daily news. Both groups closely follow government and political news, and they often play leadership roles in discussions with others about politics and the direction of the country. In fact, more than four-in-ten consistent conservatives and three-in-ten consistent liberals describe themselves as driving these conversations rather than being simply participants.
In their efforts to keep up with the latest in the world of politic news, many people rely on a range of traditional and new sources. However, a wide gap exists in the number of outlets to which these individuals turn, as well as their trust and distrust of specific news outlets.
Those with conservative views orient heavily around Fox News, with nearly half of them (47%) naming it as their main source for news about government and the political scene. Meanwhile, consistent liberals volunteer a wider range of main news outlets, with no one outlet attracting more than 13% of their responses.
In addition to a wide gap in news consumption, these individuals also have different experiences with online discussion forums and social media. Consistent conservatives are more likely than their counterparts to encounter a mix of opinions on Facebook, while consistent liberals are more than twice as likely to mainly see posts that align with their own views.
It is a multistage theater
A drama about politics is a great way to get people talking. It’s not only an engaging topic but also a powerful tool for change. However, the problem with political dramas is that they’re often too partisan and sensational. The resulting political news is a multistage theater that blurs the lines between journalism and infotainment.
The media has been ensnared in a symbiotic relationship with the government that serves their own interests but misleads the public. Journalists need dramatic events to dramatize their stories, and government officials oblige by fabricating crises. Both parties benefit from this charade by ignoring the more complex but boring issues that actually matter.
In the new media era, many of the most serious problems facing the country have been obscured by an endless barrage of sensational scandals and outlandish claims. This trend has been fueled by the rise of television and the explosion of lobbyists and special-interest groups. As a result, political coverage often has little to do with actual governing.
Weaver argues that the press corrupts itself, the policy process, and the public’s perceptions by seeking out and propagating dueling cover stories with their drama, conflict, and quotable advocates, but neglecting to discover and report the underlying realities. He proposes a return to pre-Pulitzer journalism, in which journalists focus on truth and integrity rather than ratings or money. This is a quixotic proposal, given the limits of the audience’s attention span and the inability of journalists to concentrate for long periods of time.
It is a charade
Many politic news stories focus on sensational scandals, whether real or exaggerated. The media coverage is not accompanied by an analysis of what the scandals mean for politics and policy. This charade allows politicians to flaunt their success in decoupling from China and corporations to show off their patriotism – while America’s indirect dependence on China’s industrial power grows. Critics of the media blame a lack of political science study among journalists for this narrative.
Despite the popularity of new media, traditional journalists still play a role in shaping political news and influencing public opinion. However, they have become out of touch with a large segment of the population. As a result, their work can seem biased or out of touch with reality.
The hush money case occupying all of the headlines in American media is a perfect example. These supposedly serious crimes by the top leaders of this country should be on all the front pages. Instead, the media is indulging in a charade of infotainment and quotes from Twitter feeds. This is a travesty for the people of the United States.
It is a form of propaganda
As fake news becomes a more prominent part of the political conversation, it is important for students to understand its dangers and how to spot it. It is also vital for teachers to teach students how to analyze the source of a story and identify its biases. This is because politic news is not just about misinformation and partisanship; it can also have real-life implications. For example, a fake news article on TIME Edge about an online protest ended up turning into a physical event that was reported on by the media. This is just one of many examples of how politic news can influence people’s lives and decisions.
Another effect of politic news is that it obscures larger issues by focusing on sensational scandals, many of which are false or exaggerated. This can lead journalists and the public to focus on political crises and ignore systemic problems, such as a savings-and-loan debacle. This type of coverage can also lead to political polarization and reduce the credibility of the media as a whole.
A culture of lies entraps both the media and government in a symbiotic circle of mythmaking, according to Paul Weaver, a former political scientist, journalist, and corporate communications executive. Journalists need drama to sell their stories, and officials need to appear to be responding to crises to enhance their prestige and power. In the process, they corrupt each other and the public by generating fake crises that are really joint fabrications.