Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Distorted Worldview: Why are unimportant matters getting more news coverage?

The TED talk entitled "How the news distorts our worldview" by Alisa Miller was very enlightening. Although this information was taken 9 years ago, think about how this has changed (for better or worse?) because of the Social Media Undertaker.

This map is the number of seconds that American network and cable news organizations dedicated to news stories, by country, in February of 2007.

The month this map was designed from, there was massive flooding in Indonesia, North Korea agreed to dismantle its nuclear facilities, and the IPCC released its study confirming man's impact on global warming. 79% of total news coverage was accounted for by the U.S. The remaining percent was filled with news of Iraq, and little else. The combined coverage of Russia, China, and India reached just one percent. 

When the news stories were analyzed, one was removed and here's how the world looked. 

What was that story? The death of Anna Nicole Smith. The story eclipsed every country except Iraq, and received 10 times the coverage of the IPCC report. Why did this even happen? One reason, Alisa Miller explains, is that news networks have reduced the number of their foreign bureaus by half. 

THE REALITY: Covering the Kardashians is CHEAPER. 

As our world becomes interconnected, is this the world view we Americans should have? 

Social Media has an incredible influence on our daily lives, and it has slowly become our generations main media source. So this begs the question: are the news articles that are spreading throughout Facebook and Twitter distorting our image of the world?

I can honestly say I know more about popular hairstyles in Denmark then whether or not the country is run by a President (Spoiler Alert: They have a Prime Minister- I googled it). I was interested in how many people around me also knew about Denmark's political leader and so I asked... and then made more interesting questions. I took a poll among my friends, cast mates, and a few random people in the RB hallways. 

Here was the first question: Who will you vote for as President and why?

(out of 20 people)
7- "Not Trump, because he is racist, dumb, poor business man etc.."
3- "Hillary because America needs a women president."
4- "Not voting."
6- "Bernie Sanders, because no one else is good enough."

Second question: Where do you get information about our presidential candidates?

14- Facebook
2- CNN/Yahoo
4- Friends

Third question: Can you name a current international event?

4- Pregnant T-Rex
6- Pope is making Mother Teresa a Saint
9- No 
1- Russia withdrew from Syria

Last question: Who is the President of Denmark?

18- No idea
2- Trick question, they don't have a President. (One of them was a Geography major, the other was in a World Religions class and apparently it was brought up.)

What can we do to make important news coverage more accessible? There are apps we can download, websites we can bookmark, newspapers everywhere on campus. But why are we not focusing on the big important events? My theory is that the anxiety that is coupled with the truth about our depending doom is too much; and so we'd rather watch cat videos and PewdiePie play video games. If you are stressed just thinking about the impending environmental collapse, current cyber war, the upcoming economy crash that promises no job after graduation, then here is a video for you,Enjoy

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