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Saturday, 12 July 2008

Spead of 'news'.

I have put the word news in quotes to highlight the fact the our newspapers, both on-line and paper type, often allow us to read things that are anything but news.

In this report on the BBC web site one quote caught my eye and that was "News took longer to get into the public domain and tended to have different focus.". The reason it caught my eye was it is something my long since dead Nana used to say in relation to world news and how in a couple of decades previous people would not have heard about various famines and atrocities that happened abroad. And here we are now looking at a quote said by some professor about news within Britain's shores.

The world is shrinking that is for sure. It is shrinking in the sense that it now takes a lesser time to get to some other place in the world. It is shrinking in the sense that news from anywhere abroad can be handed in to ones editor for inclusion in that days news outlet in real time and that means almost as the news happens.

The Internet is largely to blame for this shrinkage. But is this shrinkage of the world a good or bad thing? I reckon it is a bit of both. It is good because at its heart it can be used to bring the worlds people closer together. It is bad because the news outlets abuse this peoples desire to be close to others.

We are by design a group think animal. We are social creatures. We have an innate desire to want to feel close to others within our creature set and it is this desire that the news outlets abuse. They abuse it by stating something is this or that rather than just reporting what has happened. They have the power to shape our thinking. If there is something, or someone, worth reporting about that they happen not to like they can force feed their readership lies and propoganda so that that readership ends up disliking the same thing or person. We all like to think our thinking cannot be altered in this way using this time honoured method but I ask you this:

How do you know for absolute certainty that something reported on that purportedly happened half the world away actually happened?

Sure news aggregater's abound on the Internet and if something is reported on in several countries simultaneously then surely the news must be true? Not really. Do we know for absolutely certain that the news moguls worldwide are not in some massive collusion? We do not. And that is worrisome.

My old Nana always said that unless you see something unfold before your own eyes or unless you know someone who saw that something unfold before their own eyes who then relayed to you a firsthand report of that something you should not trust any other source.

As overall people have become more educated in the Western world one would hope that they would see through something like this and see it for what it really is but alas this is not the case. As the use of the Internet has grown faster than any one expected it to the people have come to trust whatever they read. This is a dangerous trait that one day will be exposed but for now at least the news outlets have within their grasp a chance to shape the world to the views of their owners and if we were to find out who really owns the news outlets around the world we would probably find that the ownership is in the hands of a few people.

As I grow older and more cynical with age I can see a lot of what my old Nana used to say as holding a lot of water. Of course, some of what she said was utter tosh as she came from a different world that had different standards to how things are today but her underlaying philosophy holds true. Do not trust anything you cannot verify yourself.

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