With technology and social media, we have more ways than ever before to find out what is going on in the world around us.
It’s possible to reach out to a stranger on the other side of the planet and have a conversation as easily as if you were leaning over the back fence.
A news story from Africa that might once have taken days (or longer) to make its way to your local media can now be accessed instantly, directly from the source.
But while individuals now have the ability to access more information than ever before, the dark side of this shiny new coin is what people are doing with all that access. Rather than reaching out and exploring, many are choosing to explore only those channels where they find people, news and information that agree with their preconceptions and attitudes.
Information silos were clearly a factor in both the election of Donald Trump as president in the U.S., and the surprise of his opposition, who woke up on Nov. 10 to find they were just as guilty of only seeing what they wanted to see.
Tunnel vision is not new. But the proliferation of websites, especially when it comes to politics, dedicated to a particular view of the world has increased the size of the blinders enormously. And it’s not simply a matter of left-versus-right or partisan politics, it’s polarizing viewpoints across the political spectrum that can be filtered – and filtered out – simply by the online company you keep.
Slanted stories and opinionated postings by web associates help to perpetuate misinformation, and when you add in the growing contingent of fake news writers and sites, it becomes more difficult to sort the real information from the false.
It’s become a sad state of affairs where all these sources are lumped together with a generic label of “the media,” and held up as examples of journalism. This isn’t journalism, nor has journalism changed in the information age. Good journalism is what it always has been – information that makes sense of the world, created by individuals who follow an objective process to produce fair, balanced copy.
Locating, comprehending and staying with objective journalism, however, is up to you.