The current state of the media is one of ratings losses fueling hyper-vitriol and hyper-hysteria. If you judged the world by Fox News, CNN and MSNBC, you would need to conclude that we live in terrible times. But there is just one part of the real world news they aren’t telling you: on a global level, extreme poverty is in rapid decline and the environment is improving.
The real news
You didn’t hear about it? Well you aren’t alone. Major news networks aren’t telling you how sub-Saharan Africa, India and Asia are being lifted out of poverty and the mortality rates of infants are improving significantly. Diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis are being eradicated. Poverty and crime in the United States is also in a downward trajectory. The environmental conditions in impoverished countries are dramatically improving. Really? Yes, and the unemployment rate of African-Americans living in the United States is also at an all-time low. You probably would have never guessed it by watching the news. So what is really going on?
Generating hysteria to improve ratings
What is happening is that the mainstream media is losing ratings and eyeballs. The result is that they need to manufacture hysteria to keep viewers gripped. The consequence of this brutal ratings game is that only the most sensational, terrible, terrifying and awful news gets attention and the most sensational, terrifying and polarizing news pundits and politicians get air time.
Exacerbating the problem further is how Facebook and Google build “filter bubbles” around specific user-types. If Facebook knows you tend to like comments that spout off about how terrible President Trump is, Facebook will feed you more of that content. Google also, builds “Digital Avatars” that categorize user types and feeds results to you that match your political, religious, psychographic and demographic status using your private data to categorize your personality. The result is that everyone who watches the news and spends significant amounts of time on social media ends up becoming more polarized, segmented and depressed. Effective social discourse is breaking down. Useful debate in determining what we should conclude concerning policies, trends, making development and politics virtually non-existent except in one place: podcasts.
Long format podcasts
Our civil discourse and society in general is being saved by long-format podcasts. Listen to Joe Rogan, Sam Harris, Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro, Dave Rubin. These folks who are labeled as part of the “Intelectual Dark Web” cut through politics by seeking truth and civility. In a world filled with noise, spin and agenda-driven algorithms, these podcasts offer long-attention-span conversations. Podcasts and YouTube videos are two of the best trends happening in media, and the content produced on these platforms is outstanding.
Along these lines, it’s been my pleasure to produce the first 30 episodes of the Utah Stories podcasts, where we delve deep into the issues that affect our quality of life in Utah: affordable housing, smart growth, wilderness preservation and air quality are just a few of the topics we cover. It’s my hope that more readers download and listen as our printing costs to produce this magazine increase and more advertisers move online.
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