I’ve noticed a difference between both mainstream and alternative media that claims to be more apolitical. I’m referring to examples from American MSM here, but I expect my observation would be applicable everywhere. When watching documentary footage of alternative lifestyles, I notice mainstream media which brands itself as less polarized than NBC or FOX, like ABC or CBS, uses a tone of interpreting the subject(s) charitably, but the journalists ask questions like “is it difficult living differently than most people, in a way many disapprove of?”
Summary: In my opinion, that now even centrist and moderate mainstream media are so poor at journalism they can’t credibly claim to be aiming for neutrality or objectivity in reporting. Thus, if one wants to stay a fully informed citizen, it’s your individual responsibility to seek out alternative media, as the MSM alone cannot provide sufficient perspective.
Meanwhile, alternative media asks questions of people living life on the edge like “how is this your normal? What makes you experience your life to be as fulfilling to you as the mainstream is fulfilling to most people?”
The difference between the two is the first question is pretending to be charitable for an audience that doesn’t want to be made uncomfortable. The second question comes from a place of actual care for the subject, so that they feel respected and the audience authentically informed. I think a lot of people get in their heads that the most overtly polarized media is unreliable, but if the MSM doesn’t stray too far left or right, and they appear to want to give people more than a partisan take on everything, they’re trustworthy. But if the MSM isn’t fairly represent their subjects, they’re not politically neutral. They’re moderate.
That isn’t itself a bad thing. But people hold a sliver of hope that *some* of the MSM is still trying for objectivity. But “moderate” MSM just means not to do anything that stands out, to win the lion’s share of advertising money. If a news source never does anything politically incorrect, even when the story isn’t about politics, they’re not trying to tell you the truth. If a left-wing or right-wing take on an issue was definitely true, and the other side utterly in the wrong, moderate MSM will never tell you that. If they’re never willing to stand out among journalists, none of their journalism will ever be outstanding.
It’s now impossible for individuals to be informed citizens by relying on MSM sources alone. Of course nobody does this anymore. I read the newspaper so I can talk to other nobodies on the street who have read the newspaper so between the two of us we can figure out where the newspaper went wrong. That’s the best reason I have to consume mainstream media. I assume as the general state of journalism in the Western world has declined, others are doing the same.
But social media has turned the body politic itself into the Fourth Estate. When the Founding Fathers of the United States emphasized the importance of the freedom of the press and the fourth estate, they probably never anticipated something like Facebook or Twitter. Now everyone has their own press at their fingertips at all times. I don’t know if we’re better or worse off for it. But as a civil libertarian, I think the evermore decentralization of information control is underrated. As much as social media can suck, remember every government on Earth is always using innovations in information technology to enhance their surveillance and information control capabilities. There is no wealthy government on Earth in any country, developed or developing, democratic or dictatorial, that isn’t trying to create a totalitarian information security state. In some democratic countries civilian checks and balances have prevented this as fully blown outcome. But for most of the world it’s a losing battle.
The capability of surveillance technology is going beyond what George Orwell ever imagined. And nothing and nobody in the MSM deserves any longer our faith they can help. If you want to stay informed, consuming alternative news sources is necessary.