Sunday, September 07, 2008

Bubble Talk

Scott Simon was curious about the blogosphere and why on earth people would read blogs. So for answers he turned to someone outside of Washington and the establishment media - okay, at least outside of NPR -Jose Antonio Vargas of the Washington Post.

Simon: "Do people turn to the blog [sic] because they think they're not getting information from mainstream media?"

Vargas: "I think there's a feeling of that. There's a feeling that they're not getting enough, or they're not getting it in context, at least the context that they want to get it. I mean I think one of the things that the Internet has affected in terms of our news culture is that people want to read what they want to read. If you're a conservative who likes to support Sarah Palin you tend to visit sites that are supportive of her. If you're critical of her you tend to visit sites that are critical of her. Of course that's just one side of it; there are readers online who are honestly and carefully looking at information and weighing things in, but I would also say that in this highly partisan use environment and partisan electorate that we have, people are drawn to information that they want to see."

See, news outlets like NPR aren't failing to inform you - about US secret prisons and torture, the million plus dead Iraqis, Israel's nuclear weapons, US support for death squads in Latin America, etc., etc. - it's just a feeling you have. And worse than just a feeling, it's just your own narrow prejudice of wanting to read what you want to read, you close-minded, highly partisan blog reader! Shame on you...


Slave Revolt said...

True to a certain extent.

Basic history is not difficult to find--but figuring out that all narratives have biases, and sorting out the history and the ideology, this is what's difficult for 'sheeple'.

It is true, a good portion of the US population don't want to see the undemocratic and barbaric 'truth' of their culture/ideology/history.

NPR certainly isn't going to bring larger truths to a harsh light--and they are constrained by their funding, which brackets their reason for being and direction as an institution.

This is why bottom-up, democratic journalism is more compelling, fact-based, and conducive for long-term human survival.

What exists now are herding operations (corporations) dominating the flow of information and capital. No good for democracy or social/ecological well-being.

NPR can be changed--but it is still tied into the business-run nature of US poligarchy.

War On War Off said...

Must. Confirm. Little. Scotty's. Biases.

Porter Melmoth said...

Scotty 'Agent 86' Simon's been in his comfy Saturday morn bubble zone for so long, he assumes all his listeners are as well. Maybe most of them are.

I would point out, Slave Revolt, that NPR, compared to other radio news organizations, is swimming in cash. Thanks to their corporate godfathers, NPR has grown into an outfit that is only rivaled by BBC's radio division. BBC is of course entirely state-supported, without any ads, while NPR has worked very hard in creating an 'NPR-style' ad - which isn't supposed to sound like an ad, naturally. Plus, they toss in the 'pity us' plea to get even more bucks to add to their corporate coffers.

NPR was pretty low key about this growing windfall until they got their bran-new DC headquarters, which they still brag about. Now they flaunt and preen and show off their unabashedly 'superior' mindedness.

Commercial media empires minimized their radio news operations some time ago, (the big three's TV news outfits have been money-losers for years) preferring the wider profit margins of talk radio, and they let NPR have the news territory, for the most part. That's one reason the corporations zeroed in on NPR: as a handy outlet for their agendas that was free of all the conventional cost of advertising.

The bottom line is that the overhead in running a radio network is just a fraction of what is needed for television, so the corporations really don't have to dole out that much to NPR cash-wise. Yet they can reap huge rewards in reaching 'thinking' audiences. 'Non-thinking' audiences, who prefer commercial radio, certainly have a lot of buying power, but the smart corporate types know that it is the smaller, more elitist 'thinking' audience that stands to care about the real decisions and policies in the nation, and that's where the desire to mold them comes in.

These are just my observations, but one can 'connect the dots' (to use a bit of appropriate Luntz-speak) in figuring out just what these propagandists and would-be molders of the public might be up to.

Liberality said...

Porter Melmoth is spot on there with his analysis. I really hate it when people say that NPR doesn't "really" have commercials either--they sure do and they have an agenda as you so righteously point out.