In just a few short years, everything has changed about how we get our information. It wasn’t that long ago that a few nightly news broadcasts and our local newspaper provided the grist for the American conversation. Diverse groups of citizens were largely working off of the same set of facts – screened for accuracy by editors who were responsible by professional ethics to get the facts right (or print a retraction).
But technology has now given us a million exciting choices as consumers for information (news, opinion pieces, etc.). Available at the click of a mouse is a vast world of ideas, but also a world of facts ripe for selective cherry-picking (and then there’s the information that simply isn’t true at all). In addition, publishers, broadcasters, news organizations, cable companies, and gaming companies in the media and entertainment industry are facing new business models for the way they create, market, and distribute their content. There’s increased pressure to execute new digital production and multi-channel advertising and distribution strategies that rely on a detailed understanding of consumers’ media consumption preferences and behaviors. Because of this, some may argue that we can no longer tell the difference between news, opinion shows or editorial entertainment.
This new media environment is causing political fury and hardening cultural divides. We can agree there is a flood of biased content out there, and some would argue the news is biased. Increasingly, people are frequently seeking out news, editorial, and other content that is aligned to their beliefs, and now more than ever, there are more options for finding that content that leans in a particular political direction.
So, join us for our second dinner of the season as we debate the difference between media, news and information. We’ll touch base on how it might be possible to recognize the most flagrant cases of bias in the behavior of reporters and experts, how we can get out under social media’s influence on what we see and what is re-enforced to us as well as the role advertising and special interest groups play. Ultimately, we’ll debate what the loss of trust means for us as individuals and for our country.