Dan Hind in The Trouble with Media Reform makes a case for a captive mass media's incompetence to inform the public about important matters.

The media have some explaining to do in Britain and elsewhere. Taken as a whole they keep seeing things that aren’t there, like weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. And they keep overlooking things that are there, like the shadow banking system. There is clearly a problem with the system that provides most people with most of their information about the world beyond their immediate experience.

But as we try to work out what to do about these glaring failures we run into other problems.

The first is that the media largely control public discussion of their own operations.

When discussion of reform becomes impossible to avoid ... the media are well placed to frame the topic in ways that suit them.

The second ... problem is that we are, for the most part, reluctant to contemplate ...  that the media are incorrigibly unreliable about matters of vast public significance.

... there is little appetite to move away from the explanations and excuses offered by the media themselves, to debate programs for reform that go beyond what they themselves are offering.

... we are always tempted to accept their assurances that, while mistakes have been made, lessons have now been learned. They weren’t betraying us. [emphasis mine]

[image source]

While I agree in the main, it's easy to fling indictments. I don't find Hind's proposed solution convincing. Democratic choices in disbursing public funds assumes a well informed and independent citizenry. This is exactly what we no longer have. It would be easy enough for corporate spin doctors to simulate thousands of citizens on the internet, or to manipulate actual people, just as they do for elections. His solution assumes a naive trust in democratic process which I find ill advised.

Tags: media failure, media reform

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