Where do people get their news from? It used to be by reading the national equivalent of The Times of London, where foreign-based reporters wired stories back to the head office via their bureaus located in a number of foreign capitals. Home-news was written from more comfortable and accessible offices or by a few freelance reporters, who sold their ‘stories’ to the newspapers for an agreed sum.
Public opinion was based on these items of news from the august newspapers, sold for a penny by paper-boys and tobacco-shops, or left – ironed in some cases – on the side-table in clubs, barber-shops, railway lounges and hotels.
Now, we get our ‘news’ (it could also be called ‘entertainment’) from the telly, the Internet, the Red Tops (trash and titillation), the often amateur ex-pat press, or other popular sources, full of what Wiki calls ‘inaccurate news and the misrepresentation of individuals and situations’.
News today is often provided by companies, celebrities or political groups as a ‘press release’, offering self-promotion and merchandising which, depending on who owns the news-source, may receive more prominence than otherwise.
In America, says the (right-wing) Pew Research Centre, the largest provider of ‘news’ comes from Facebook, which ‘stands out as a regular source of news for about a third of Americans’!
It is followed by YouTube ‘with 23% of U.S. adults regularly getting news there’. One wonders how many of them had been getting their news from Parler, which was recently closed down by its host-service Amazon Web Services ‘…as a "last resort" after the platform was deemed to be both "unwilling and unable" to address extremist speech…’. (Newsweek here).
There is no doubt but that many readers search for the news they want to read or to hear. Conservative readers pick up The Telegraph, El Mundo, the ABC or go to El Español or Okdiario online, which lefty readers will choose The Guardian and El País, while going online to El Huff Post, Público or elDiario.es.
A recent story in Spain was about several socialist mayors who had wangled themselves Covid vaccines. The wretched story came from the rightist sources alone… until the offending politicians were thrown out of the party, and the leftist news-providers had something to say. Then, a conservative mayor from La Nucia in Valencia was found to have gotten the vaccine, and suddenly, the right-wing newspapers were changing the subject.
In short – no news-source wants to lose readers by somehow not being in line with their opinions. As we quoted last week in the BoT, ‘…Media firms work backward. They first ask, “How does our target demographic want to understand what’s just unfolded?” Then they pick both the words and the facts that they want to emphasize…’ (TK News here).
Can a news-item change the way we think?
Only if it doesn’t threaten a previously-held belief.
From Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe (1882) comes:
‘…Though never nurtured in the lap
Of luxury, yet I admonish you,
I am an intellectual chap,
And think of things that would astonish you.
I often think it's comical
How Nature always does contrive
That every boy and every gal
That's born into the world alive
Is either a little Liberal
Or else a little Conservative! ’