News, journalism, and media have never been a priority in my life. Until I took “Intro to Mass Media” last year, I definitely didn’t know what twitter was. I’m pretty behind the times when it comes to “what kids are up to these days” and consider this ignorance a key element in clinging to the thin threads of sanity that remain.
That mass media class, however, opened my eyes to the effects of globalization and monopolies. I learned that the Telecommunications Act of 1996 removed restriction of media ownership, so that now 90% of our news comes from only 6 major corporations.
Only about 15% of people in America believe that these 6 media corporations approach news objectively. The concept of cognitive dissonance means that people only retain information that already coincides with their current beliefs. The Hostile Media Effect gives people the impression that other news media sources are biased against their beliefs and can’t be trusted. This causes people to lean towards more heavily biased sources that agree with their world view, limiting the objectivity of the information they seek out and retain.
It’s a vicious cycle.
That being said, I don’t typically go out of my way to read or listen to the news. If I hear about new information, it happens spontaneously, but if it strikes my interest I go and do my own research. For example, I was in France when Britain voted to leave the European Union. I picked up on some information from the radio with my limited French comprehension, but was able to Google enough information to have an educated conversation on the topic with people I met who were directly affected by the turn of events.
It’s a pretty good feeling to have an educated conversation with someone of a completely different culture and background. This fact-based, objective information sharing between two individuals in a polite, respectful manner is rare.
That being said, if I ever seek out information of world events, it’s usually in the form of John Stewart, John Oliver, or Steven Colbert. Pointing out the absurdities of the rest of the world seems to coincide with my current world view, so that is the media that I seek out and retain. I could, and probably should, become a little more mature in my involvement with the rest of the world. But I have least 2 more semesters before I have to grow up completely, so I will continue with the previously scheduled program until adulthood busts down my door and starts charging me for internet services.