Monday, May 16, 2011

Media "Balance"

Following up on the first idea expressed in this post; the problematic implementation of media balance.

The not-so-pithy summary: The same phenomenon which results in feminists accusing the media of fostering a rape culture also results in a large part of the US right of believing that the media, and hence the Left, fosters Islamic terrorism.  It results in white people accusing the media of hiding black-on-white crimes.  It results in the people of both sides of the political schism of believing the media to be unfairly protecting the other side.

The modern media's idea of balance is, regardless of actual merit, to -present- some kind of merit to both sides. The Associated Press exemplify this concept most strongly, which is a large part of where their decline has come from; a news story about the US bombing its enemies for being bastards cannot be "balanced" without coverage of a stray bomb destroying the homes of civilians in the area.

Identifying something close to the truth is hard, so fairness is substituted in for good judgment; there have been too many stories about Muslim extremists doing bad things lately, we need to show how the Muslims really aren't bad people, so here's the head of an institute talking about how Muslims aren't that bad.  (Oh shit the dude beheaded his wife quick find somebody else).

The media -cannot handle- lopsided stories; its dependency on controversy, and its tendency to generate it, comes about not just for the ratings, but because controversy is necessary to balance a lopsided picture.  The modern media couldn't get away with just reporting black-on-white and white-on-black crime; the former is significantly more common, the story would be lopsided and unbalanced.

Reality is lopsided, however.  Muslims -do- engage in a lot more violence than their Christian counterparts; burn a Koran, people a thousand miles away die.  Burn a bible, or a cross, and people a thousand miles away never even know about it; it's beneath their notice or their care - well, unless you're Christian, then burning a cross suddenly -does- deserve media attention as a hate crime.

Reality is lopsided, and as a general rule of thumb, whoever is getting media sympathy is probably a member of a group least deserving of it, because otherwise there wouldn't be any controversy to fuel that sympathy's projection in the media.  Media' favorite villains are the people you'd most expect to be upstanding members of society, their favorite victims are those you'd most expect to be garroting people in the streets after dark.

I will be worried when libertarians start getting cast in a more sympathetic light in the media.

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