1.4. Why the Media Tries So Hard to Freak Us Out

The main issue with the media is they’re torn between two conflicting sets of values and actions.

This week’s videos have been about how our social systems are set up to stress us out, and put us in an unproductive frame of mind.

And no discussion of the forces freaking us out is complete without mentioning the media.

The media likes to think they simply report the news. But we all know that’s not really true.

They frame the news. They shape the news. They create the news.

The main issue with the media is they’re torn between two conflicting sets of values and actions.

One is the standards and best practices of good journalism.

The other is the standards and best practices of making money.

Sometimes, it’s possible for those two different value systems to coexist. Sometimes it’s possible to do good journalism and make money.

But what if you aren’t so lucky? What if you have to make a choice, between one or the other?

It’s a digital world. Information is cheap. Analysis is cheap. Opinions are cheap.

It’s becoming harder and harder to make a living in the media, no matter what quality of journalism you provide.

And so all of these practices that don’t have anything to do with good journalism—like bombarding people with information, manufacturing controversies, overdramatizing everything, dressing everything up to make it flashy, focusing on the negative over the positive, making reckless claims, trying to scoop each other, kissing up to sources, using misleading teasers, headlines, statistics, anecdotes, puff pieces, and sponsored content, presenting both sides uncritically to appear neutral, refusing to call PR spin what it really is, and only prioritizing perspectives that help their bottom line—all of that stuff has been embraced. Not because it’s good journalism. Because it makes money.

The consequences on us consumers are immense. We’ve got to get our news from somewhere. But we’re overloaded with negative and misleading information. We struggle to figure out what’s really true and what isn’t. We don’t trust the news. And we don’t trust each other.

No wonder we’re so stressed!

When you see how our social systems are set up to knock us off our game, to put us in an unproductive frame of mind, to make us feel threatened and overwhelmed all the time, then you won’t feel like you need to beat yourself up, or blame others for this lousy set of circumstances.

Then you can start working toward a better frame of mind.

 

This is the 16th in a series of over 150 videos about how to create real, lasting social change. Click here for a list of all titles, videos, and transcripts.

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