The power of the mind vs. the media

Via Faris’ blog, I chanced upon The Contrarian‘s website. It’s a site that presents a topic of discussion in the current news from different angles. So, for example, compare the Guardian’s headline ‘Sir Ian Blair resigns as Met Police Commissioner’ to CNN’s ‘Top UK police chief forced to quit’. I think that very act of contrast highlights a fact that isn’t discussed very often but that exists openly – that of subjectivity in the news. Every individual’s opinions are a result of the news sources he or she relies on, and in many parts of the world, it’s only one side – their side – that people care about. I think that creates a very lop-sided society, and a dangerous one, in many ways. Reading only a left or right-leaning paper, as the case may be, means that your opinions are not so much being formed, as informed. That’s an important distinction. As Marshall McLuhan said, “The medium is the message.” In 1964, he was referring to technology (lightbulbs, television etc.) as different media which impact upon the experience of a message. With reference to traditional news sources however, the statement has a much more straightforward meaning. By reading a newspaper with a particular viewpoint, you are that much more susceptible to imbibe that message almost automatically – unless you are constantly aware and use the information instead to create an opinion of your own. The brain is a faculty that is much more developed in humans than animals, and we shouldn’t forget the saliency of that fact.

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