Opinion | Muftic: One-sided media and a deeply divided nation
December 27, 2018
Starting in January, this column will only be found on the Sky-Hi News website as the paper will stop publishing Bill Hamilton's and my columns in their print edition. I have been grateful for the past 12 years of appearing in print. It has been a unique opportunity in opinion journalism to have two very different takes on national news side-by-side on the same page accessible to those who like to get their news in print. I hope you click both of us online to get more than one side of historic events shaking Washington and beyond. For those who do not have access to the internet, it is farewell.
Both media and American politics are divided as never before. I am forever amazed with how those who do not have the same reactions to politics as I do receive a whole different take on news, or do not hear the same stories reported. No wonder we are so dug in with our political divisions when we find ourselves asking "where in the world did that dumb idea come from; I never heard that story. "There is a good reason. What stories each news outlet chooses to report or how talking heads back up the opinion of the star of the talk show can be quite different depending on which news channels we view. With the advent of cable and internet, we have become one sided because of the ease of a click to seek out our media that is in our comfort zone, undisturbed by facts or arguments to the contrary.
There is a relationship between the nature of a nation that is increasingly sharply divided politically and a blurring of the lines between opinion and hard news. Newspapers have a tradition of keeping the two separated and opinion labeled as such. Particularly guilty of confusing the two are TV cable news channels that mix hard and breaking news with commentary based upon editorial political biases, increasing the political sharp divide as each side makes interpretations and reporting news and issue priorities that cater to their audience's comfort zones. It takes effort to check out various viewpoints since rarely do both sides appear simultaneously on the same page in the same publication or on the same TV screen.
Who can we blame for this? To quote my favorite philosopher, Pogo, "we have met the enemy and it is us" and now we have a variety of media that has provided the method to take advantage of us by putting in our hands a click and a remote. It is only human to want to get news in forms that are easy, fast, and comfortable to digest.
We like to think we are objective and open minded, but a recent survey found that the reality is most of us are not per a recent poll.
"Most Americans claim to rely on a mix of liberal and conservative news sources, but one in four admit to getting news from only one perspective. Forty-six percent of U.S. adults claim to have firm views that rarely change. Americans commonly share news stories with others — primarily with like-minded people."
The antidote? Make the effort to hear and read more than one medium outlet even if it raises your blood pressure. Thanks to freedom of the press there is a large marketplace of media for you to tap. Use your click and remote if you no longer hold a newspaper or a magazine in your hands.