Sunday, January 22, 2012

Messengers and mirrors

As seven European countries had their credit worthiness downgraded last week renewed calls went out for the creation of a European rating agency. The underlying thinking is that the negative ratings reflect some sort of Anglo-Saxon conspiracy to torpedo the good burghers of continental Europe. But also part of the mix is the old desire, if not quite to shoot the messenger, then at least to replace him with one bearing better news.

Meanwhile the mainstream news media is replete with warnings about GFC2.0. In Europe "crisis" is the word of the month and will probably become the word of the year. Yet this is a message we seem happy to wallow in.

What is it that keeps us hankering for negative stories from the mass media? It is the oldest rule in the book that you can't sell newspapers with good news stories. But too often we put the blame on this lamentable situation on the news media. In reality we get the media we deserve. The news media are a mirror that reflects our society back at us. Like any other successful service in a market economy, the news media makes money by satisfying demand and desires.

We are not the victims of the news media, we created the beast and continue to nourish it through our indiscriminate consumption of its output.

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