Finding sources, and then evaluating them is a critical part of what we will be doing with papers in our communications degree. We are taught to look for peer-reviewed materials as the best qualified sources. Those major media outlets would seem to be the “peer-reviewed” source for news stories. But as we have seen in Buying the War, even these sort of sources can be compromised.
What is required to evaluate the truth. But how can you know the truth?
Which makes me reflect back to the book Cronkite that we read in book club several months back. The book presented a time where the news media was fairly homogenous, and the country really united. But when reading the book, I asked myself the question: was the country as united as it seemed, or did the media oligopoly just make it seem so?
I don’t think public opinion has ever been as united as history books or media stories make it seem. There have always been people underrepresented. Before civil rights black opinions were definitely underrepresented, and that is just one example.
Today the internet allows people to follow and find information targeted to their groups and interests in a way never seen before in history. The media oligopoly is extremely fractured. But they continue to talk as if they were the true purveyors of news and truth, getting ever more strident about it as their actual influence shrinks.
The rest of us are finding more outlets for expression, and differentiation. The Plurality is finally finding it has a voice. Those in the mainstream bemoan this as polarization. They think this is new, and blame scapegoats and bogeymen. But it is just natural currents that were already there becoming visible.