In media, propaganda and advertising it’s all about “emotional jolts per minute”. The media provides “celebrity-like” coverage of political personalities but seldom does serious policy reporting. This problem is pervasive in political coverage but even rears up in coverage of health, science, business and technology.
Personalities, and especially those that generate “emotional jolts per minute”, are the focus of reporting – not serious analysis or policy understanding.
●Do news sites give serious, sustained attention to policy issues as well as publishing innumerable hot takes about the personality-driven dust-up of the moment?
Harvard professor Thomas E. Patterson, the study’s author, sees trouble on that last point.
“The press is focusing on personality not substance,” he said recently on public radio’s “On the Media” program. And that reflects “not a partisan bias but a journalistic bias,” the tendency to seek out conflict. (No mystery there — it’s more interesting.)
“It’s the press in its usual mode, and that erodes public trust,” Patterson said.
And then there’s the dirty little secret that every journalist knows — Trump stories drive ratings and clicks. The word “Trump” in a headline vastly increases its chances of getting attention. (We’re all guilty; see above.)
Since so much of “news” is personality-driven trivia of “he said, she said” and faux outrage quotable quotes, we seldom develop an understanding of the policy or root subject.
Worse, many believe they have knowledge of a subject because it was reported by a well known media outlet. In reality, most of what we think we know – from the media – is likely superficial at best or incomplete and wrong at worst.
Within this celebrity gossip reporting milieu propaganda messaging and spin thrive.