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Can youthful idealism survive this age of cynicism? Cardinals romp over Dodgers, 10 Iraqis killed by bomb northwest of Baghdad, Howard Stern moving to satellite radio. Sunny today, high of There is no context, only information. No knowledge, only facts. The challenge for the person standing there, or passing through, or just searching for the perfect pastrami on rye, is to decide what, if anything, to make of it all, and what to absorb or discard. This is the challenge facing Chris Lilley at this moment.
Fighter jets soaring across a giant TV screen suggest you join the Air Force. A big giraffe wants you to visit Toys "R" Us. Drug Enforcement Administration wants you to see an exhibit on drugs and terrorism at its museum at Broadway and Seventh. Lilley is 27, a college graduate who studied communications. He wears a Yankees cap and beat-up jeans and his job today is to hand out pumpkin-orange fliers inviting passers-by to the Comedy Central studios, just down the street, for the taping of a talk show hosted by satirist Colin Quinn.
Two young women accept a flier, but most people just pass, stone-faced. They are choosing to discard. As the nation stands on the verge of a bitter presidential election, after three years of blood and war that started with the fall of the twin towers a short cab ride from here, one of the most puzzling ironies about life in modern America is that we should be more informed than ever.
Futurists had predicted that unfettered access to the world of ideas brought by the golden age of information would prove immeasurably valuable to our democracy. Yet there are few indications that it actually has. Cheney and Edwards move to battleground state of Florida.
Sadr signs cease-fire with Iraqi interim government. Turkey begins talks on entering EU. What if the advent of the Information Age has given people not only a better opportunity to spread truth, but misinformation?
What if the Information Age has been bad for democracy? Lawmakers would hear directly from citizens. The dimming filters of traditional media would be lifted, and give way to light.
For many thinkers, it was a given that the Information Age would free us from the traditional gatekeepers, folks like Dan Rather and institutions like the New York Times. And after the Sept. Thirty-two percent still think Hussein actually planned the attacks, the poll found.
2004 | The truth is out there | University of St Andrews
Among supporters of Bush, the misinformation gap is even deeper: That is misinformation on a grand scale about the most important events of our time. It is hard to explain this. Well into the s, as the Information Age was emerging, Americans had relatively little choice about where they got their information. Aside from local newspapers, consensus about what was important largely sprung from the evening news on the Big Three networks.
Newspaper readership has been dropping, too. Even Bush is unabashed about his disdain of the mainstream media. After work he sips a Samuel Adams lager at an Irish pub just beyond the lights of Times Square, where he reminds us that when American democracy was new, information was precious but far from pure. Newspapers were often just tools for warring political factions. By , attacks by the Republican Aurora were wearing thin on President John Adams, prompting his wife, Abigail, to complain about "abuse, deception and falsehood" in the press.
The Truth is Out There . . .
He is thin, with capricious sideburns and tattoos of a bat on his back and a bat skeleton on his chest. Now, along with sightseeing trips, Napoli leads a four-hour tour on Revolutionary-era history in New York. He knows his stuff, and he finds some disturbing parallels between the news today, and the news back then. He discounts the Fox News Channel as too conservative, the New York Times as too liberal, and most network news as just too dippy. But he gets most of his news from the Times and Fox, and chuckles at the contradiction.
I may not be looking at things the right way, so I try to talk to friends and family and get other perspectives, too," Napoli said. Not only must he decide what to listen to, but evaluating its quality is increasingly tricky, particularly with the Internet; years ago, at least, Americans knew whose truth they were getting.
But to many of those who took to the streets to protest the Republicans, Fox was a mouthpiece for the administration. One afternoon, hundreds gathered outside Fox headquarters, just off Times Square, chanting "Shut the Fox up! Nationally, Nielsen Media Research found an estimated 3. Also covering the Republican National Convention was the Daily Show with Jon Stewart - an increasingly popular blend of fact and hyperbole, a sort of Doonesbury of the airwaves.
A survey this summer by the Annenberg Public Policy Center, at the University of Pennsylvania, found that viewers of the Daily Show were far more likely to know the answers to questions about public policy and the presidential candidates than viewers of other leading late-night talk shows.
Still, millions of viewers see him as a source of information. Democrats, meanwhile, are far more likely to watch CNN. For conservatives, especially, distrusting the news is increasingly equated with patriotism. A popular T-shirt at Bush rallies is "Impeach the Media. Kerry, clearly exasperated, tried to address each point, citing news reports as proof. The president turned to the camera and grinned.
Hilary Kornblith, a philosophy professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, contends the shift speaks to a desire deep within us - the yearning to hear what we already believe. Kornblith, who specializes in bringing cognitive sciences like psychology to bear on philosophical theories about human nature, cited a well-known - and controversial - experiment conducted 25 years ago: Researchers at Stanford University broke volunteers into two groups.
They then gave both groups a bunch of competing research on the matter. After reviewing the data, members of each group were more convinced than ever that their views were right. It seems they had discarded the data that challenged their belief, and instead absorbed the data that supported it. Participants also thought the studies backing their beliefs were most credible.
The premise holds true whenever people gather and analyze information, especially about emotional topics.
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Krosnick, a social psychologist who also teaches at Stanford, said other studies show just the opposite: Faced with information that challenges their views, people actually become more moderate. Fox - like NPR or MTV News - most likely has done a better job covering the issues and angles its audience is most interested in, he said.
In a paper published last month, Jesse M. Shapiro, a Harvard economist, and Matthew Gentzkow of the University of Chicago business school offer another intriguing theory: In an effort to be perceived as fair and balanced, the media will tilt their news toward the views of their audience.
Simply put, the media fear that telling the truth will damage their credibility. He reads the News, and those little circulars distributed free on the subway. If he needs to know something now, or has a particular question, he figures he can always Google it on the Internet. I just need the snippets. Afghanistan vice presidential candidate survives assassination attempt.
They stare ahead, eyes on some distant point, uninterested. He wonders how many people who do grab one actually read it. At least he has given them the option. Wes Allison can be reached at allison sptimes.