By Nathan Barton
I have generally distinguished between media differently. (Part 1) First, there is the mainstream media (MSM), with such things as the WaPo, USA Today, New York Times and other major dailies, the “networks” of radio and TV (ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, and NPR/CPB), and the traditional magazines (Newsweek, US News, Time/Life, National Geographic, etc). Then there is the alternative media: the blogs and webzines and news websites not associated with the MSM: the Breitbarts WND, and InfoWars and even TheBlaze and such. Sometimes the lines are hard to draw: Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity and the rest are on MSM radio and sometimes even TV, and publish magazines.
But I’ve left out, due to personal distaste in part, such things as Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, and even Pinterest and Picasa and other visually-oriented sites. Yet I am told that more and more of the people in this nation get their news through these sources. As well as the 60-second (if that) bursts of news and weather and sports from their local AM and FM music radio stations – pop, “country-western,” rock and even (for the right set) classical music stations (usually NPR/CPB affiliated). These are more and more prominent in people’s lives, and more influential.
But these new media, whether MSM or “alternative” (AMS: Alternative Media Sources) are in addition to all the old stuff: the cable and broadcast television and radio, and printed media: major and local newspapers, magazines, and those daily “coffee-stop” daily newsletters (the most widely known is Tidbits, which doesn’t feature much news), but many towns and cities have daily versions that do. Electoral political organizations and efforts understand this better all the time.
The times have changed, and the role of media in our lives – daily lives, work lives, and political lives – has changed: not just grown but different in how much influence there is on us. If we lovers of liberty do not understand, use (and fight) the media, we lose a valuable weapon and tactic (if not strategy) for our fight for liberty. AND for our ability to live free.
Think about it.
Which brings me to my next thoughts. Like the old media, where lovers of liberty used a lot more of type 1 and type 2 methods, the new media not just join sides but also switch sides.
The MSM has long allied itself with the state, with government, and actually has controlled (at least partially) the actions of the state, as well as influencing it and defending it. The AMS have generally been more conservative, with a few prominent exceptions (HuffPost, Salon, Daily KOS, Daily Beast, for example).
The conservative sites include Limbaugh and Beck’s TheBlaze, Drudge, WND (World Net Daily), Townhall, and Free Republic, but there are thousands more.
There are few libertarian sites with any significant following, but we can include Freedom Net Daily and its sister Rational Review News Digest, Lew Rockwell, The Libertarian Enterprise, and Antiwar. Some “conservative” sites (like WND and Heritage Foundation) can be libertarian at times.
Other sites have attempted to be “neutral” even if sometimes being labeled right-wing: the Wall Street Journal, Fox, and the Washington Times are examples of that. So (I understood) were sites which were mostly-user generated items and digests. Such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other “social media.”
This is changing, apparently. Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube have all demonstrated more and more antipathy to both libertarian/anarchic/self-government AND conservative (right-wing) postings. In recent days, and for that matter over months, more claims of blatant censorship have appeared on news sites – mostly of the libertarian or conservative nature.
Also of concern, across the spectrum of media – and especially in the AMS – is the false reporting. Both of things that did NOT happen, and failing to report things that DID happen, or at least reporting them accurately. Both kinds of stories have been around since almost the beginning of printing. And the power and bald-faced lying by gossip columnists and reporters in the heyday of radio in the 1930s and 1940s was phenomenal, even by today’s standards.
And anyone familiar with the news media – print or broadcast, cable or internet, knows that it is both essential and an easy trap to fall into. You have to be selective about what you can report on 8 pages or 28 or 108. you have to choose what to communicate about in a 60-second, or 5-minute, or 3-hour news or talk show. It is easy to let bias and personal interests and concerns sneak in. (With a commentary like mine and almost all on The Price of Liberty, we embrace our bias with forthright enthusiasm as a virtue.)
Neutrality is difficult to establish and maintain. But this concept seems to have now been abandoned. Honesty and accuracy are not so difficult, and should be a lot more important. But it is obvious that all parts of the political diamond and cultural diamond have their media that have completely abandoned this basic concept.
All these things are important to keep in mind when both consuming media and generating media. When we know the biases, when we know that something is likely to be untrue, inaccurate, or omitting critical facts, we have a better chance of finding and understanding the truth. Whether that is necessary to defend ourselves and our liberty, or help others.
“Media” – like guns – are merely tools that can be used for good or evil, for liberty or tyranny. But the media establishments are, generally, those who use the tools of communications for evil. Just as governments use tools like weapons for evil.