I was following a discussion on social media. One person said that Joe Biden is in landslide territory; another said don’t count Trump out yet, Hillary Clinton was 10 to 15 points ahead a month before the 2016 election. Someone else said that the media were against Trump and someone else pointed out to the good he had done ~ new peace deals in the Middle east, etc. You only hear about that if you watch Fox News someone else said.
That got me to thinking about a great cultural divide which seems to have started in Britain, almost one hundred years ago and spread, about 60 years ago, to America and Canada.
About 100 years ago Britain saw a cultural divide that started with newspapers: the so-called ‘quality press,’ the broadsheets like The Telegraph and The Times were, broadly, conservative and Conservative and the mass market tabloids we reformist, often supporting Labour. But, in the late 1930s, while the broadsheets were still supporting appeasement, the tabloids turned towards demanding rearmament and preparing for war ~ they went resoundingly populist. Now, in the 21st century, the British ‘quality press’ is moderate to left-leaning, it was, generally, anti-Brexit, while the tabloids have drifted, with more than half of the British people, to the right …
… often opposing e.g. immigration and supporting e.g. Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson.
The same thing happened in the USA. The ‘quality press,’ the New York Times and the Washington Post had been, politically, moderate, leaning, somewhat, towards the Democrats but, beginning in the 1960s, new (or rebranded (the New York Post has existed since about 1800)) newspapers and journals emerged which challenged the moderate, even slightly left leaning giants …
… and that was before the emergence of the 24 hour TV news-cycle and talk radio, each with an insatiable demand for something, actually almost anything to show or to shout about:
I have said before that I don’t believe there is an “unbiased” media. Journalists are people, usually smart people, and they have points of view and even the best allow that to slip through while some, perhaps many, are openly biased in their reporting and analysis. The Canadian media has it own left-right split:
Depending upon what sources one relies upon for “news” and “views” in Canada one might conclude that Canada is doing just fine: we have managed the global pandemic well, our finances are in good order and we are respected in the world. None of those is even remotely true. Or one might conclude that a socialist revolution is afoot inCanada and an informal alliance with Communist China is just around the corner. That’s not true either. The sad fact is that too many Canadians (maybe more than ⅓ of us) get their information from social-media sources which are notoriously biased and which tend to be selected because they confirm our own preexisting biases.
All that being said:
- I am unalterably opposed to any and all attempts by governments, anywhere ~ Canada or China ~ to regulate and censor the media, especially the online, internet-based, media;
- I remain convinced that a biased media is both inevitable and acceptable ~ so long as we are able to recognize our own biases, too; and
- I have no idea about how to help the traditional media ~ print media (newspapers and magazines) and broadcasting (radio and TV) ~ to make a profit in this online, information intensive era.
But I am sure that we are divided by the media we consume and I am pretty sure that’s not healthy for democracy.