The media used to gather, assess, verify and report news. One thing that’s increasingly obvious from this week’s madness (the Boston Marathon bombing): they’ve almost completely abandoned the “assess and verify” part of their job in a vain attempt to match the speed of social media, fill the 24/7 news cycle and gain share of mind in a world that’s drowning in information.
More information is overall probably a good thing but it forces us to take on the filter and assess role, a task for which, let’s be honest, the vast majority of us are woefully ill-prepared. I’m a fairly bright guy and with a background in history (a discipline requiring an ability to sort through different and often contradictory sources of information) so you’d think I’d be somewhat prepared for this but I find it overwhelming.
It’s particular problem in a society that tends to prefer simple answers and is somewhat instant gratification focused. Perhaps this is why so many people are attracted to conspiracy theories in these circumstances.
We’d all better learn to think much more critically, understand more about the world, become better at assessing and filtering information, and accepting that ambiguity and complexity are essential parts of human.
We’re all reporters now!