RESPONSIBILITIES OF CITIZENS AS MEDIA CONSUMERS

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            Mr Trump is the leading exponent of “post-truth” politics—a reliance on assertions that “feel true” but have no basis in fact.  His brazenness is not punished, but taken as evidence of his willingness to stand up to elite power.

Art of the Lie, The Economist

As the media spectacle of this year’s presidential election gathers terrifying force in the remaining days before the votes are cast, speculation whether American journalists are acting responsibly is growing as well.  Though much of this can easily be attributed to partisan game playing, an alternative view focusing on the responsibilities of news consumers expressed recently by Matt Taibi in Rolling Stone deserves more serious consideration.

It is the view of the Media Stewards Project that commercially driven broadcast journalism too easily succumbs to the siren song of sensationalism more likely to generate a large audience whose attention can profitably be sold to advertisers of every sort.  Independently funded public media sources are better suited to help citizens understand this dynamic, but are not strong enough in the U.S. to provide the critical perspective citizens need to begin addressing the perilous state of our political dysfunction.

Encouraging citizens to acquire critical media literacy skills is essential for increasing their greater participation in the workings of our democracy.

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