The Irrelevance of Walter Cronkite

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MWW's Michael Kempner tells us:

"When I hear his [Walter Cronkite's] comments today, it strikes me that there is no better example of how materially the media has changed since the 1960's. Today, no one person and no single television network newscast own the hearts and minds of the American public. Cronkite's words and the parallels to the power of his 1968 comments clearly illustrate how diffused and muddled the media has become since that time. Today, it's more likely that public opinion will be shaped by a group of unknown bloggers, Internet coverage, and 24 Hour Cable News than a talking head on ABC, NBC or CBS. While network news still has an important place in informing and influencing opinion, they are now but one piece of the puzzle. Today, public opinion is more likely to be shaped by a person's favorite ideologically attuned media outlet or by "group reporting," where scores of media chase each others' stories, than by a singular and powerful voice."

Kempner's comment made me think- aside from the fragmentation of media, people don't listen anymore. They are closed to voices outside their comfort zone. Not only is there no conversation, there is no attempt at dialogue. Either/Or. For us or against us. And this explains why people who listen to Pat Robertson won't hear any other voices, period.

I'm guilty too. I listen to the voices I want to hear, and discount others. I'm not saying everyone should have equal time. But it helps to have different perspectives. Edge perspectives.

Is there anything or anyone that unites us? Events, perhaps, like Katrina or the World Cup. But even with Katrina, we saw the bifurcation of reality based on politics.

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Sorry to pick a nit but I don't agree "people don't listen anymore." From my study people have "never" listened to disconfirming evidence (data that upends their set opinions).

Also our form of finding the truth is advocacy, where each side has a debate champion (like in a courtroom) and spinning, twisting, and misleading is allowed. This might be fine for lawyers but it doesn't get us closer to the truth. If you want people to listen more we need a different system for public discussion than dopey debates with blowhards, frauds, and cranks.

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This page contains a single entry by Christian Sarkar published on January 20, 2006 1:44 PM.

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