Monday, July 16, 2007

The Real Media Divide

This article puts into words several amorphous thought that have been floating around in my head for a while.

Everyone talks about the huge divide in our society, how everything is polarized, left and right, liberal and conservative, etc. But I think this article makes an excellent point. The left-right divide isn't the real issue, it is simply magnified by the News/Entertainment divide.

Most people are not news junkies. They are smart, and they pay attention to what is important, but they don't follow every nuance of every breaking story 24/7. Others (like me) DO follow everything.

The article points out that the huge increase in information availability in recent years -- with expanded adoption of cable, satellite and the internet has allowed nearly everyone to find sites or stations that they enjoy. Naturally the news junkies gravitate to Fox News and CNN, Rush and NPR, and those who aren't obsessed with news follow their interests elsewhere. The news junkies, being the loudest, magnify any difference to the level of a fundamental disagreement -- when in reality the two sides agree on goals, and just differ on methods. (that's a theme for another post).

In effect this has created a new "specialization" -- you could call them "news junkies." They (I should say we), use their own jargon, and spend a lot of time discussing highly involved issues online, by radio call-in, and in our own specialized journals (National Review, the New Republic, etc). Meanwhile the world outside goes on, and most people just can't spare the time and effort to become experts in our field.

We (news junkies) are a little like physicists -- one may vehemently insist that the "the Large Hadron Collider WILL be able to produce the Higgs boson!", while the other retorts, "it will NOT, dang it! the energies in question just aren't sufficient - IDIOT!" Pretty soon, there's fisticuffs in the lab, and it's all downhill from there.

Meanwhile, normal people watching this are either asleep, or calling for the nice young men in the clean white coats to come and take the physicists away to a happy home with nice soft walls. (yes, Dr. Jones, there'll be Higgs bosons there, nice ones, happy ones! . . . of course you can talk to them. . . Just come on . . . get in the van . . . that's it . . . )

I'm sure there are people dialing right now to get us news junkies some help before it's too late. (as long as the padded room gets National Review, I'm good).