25 February 2014

The Paradox of Journalism and Information – The Irrationalities of Why (3)

Journalists and media institutions say that their job (duty) is to inform the public.

(Most) People tend to trust media organizations and journalists. This is most true when it comes to believing that the information presented in the media is worthy of knowing. Some people simply take for granted that whatever is in the news is important, relevant and it deserves our limited cognitive resources.

Most media organizations (companies) and subsequently the (most) journalists have income depending on the audience reach they have. TV stations, Radios, internet websites and even newspapers get their income from advertising which in a nutshell means that the media organization sells “thousands of views” (exposures).

Here is the paradox. Media organizations need to get as many “views” (audience reach) as they can. This depends (in part) on which information is transmitted to the audience and on how it is presented. Thus the incentive of media organizations and journalists is to present appealing information in an appealing manner so that they get the widest audience-reach possible…

But appealing is not the same thing as important, relevant, worthy of knowing…

So people in the audience think that a piece of information is worthy of knowing (important) because it was presented in the news (media), but at the same time the media chose that piece of information because it knows that people will find it appealing and subsequently will consume it.  

Use (commercial) media just for entertainment … the important stuff is usually not there…

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