As ever, it is striking to see the spread of opinions that our media services focus upon when talking about the same subject. Some of that is flavoured by political choice, some by the media itself and some by a monumental ignorance throughout the population. That last point is not some castigation of the majority of us poor souls who make up the population rather it is an awareness, a growing awareness at that, that many of us are so bombarded with reports, information, news bulletins and countless other electronic media sources - including blogs - that tell different stories about the same topic. We can be easily confused by this, even duped or, worse still, manipulated into taking a view or position that is patently biased - if only we could see that at the time. This weekend I’ve read and heard so much about the latest talks in Brussels on the inevitable subject of Brexit that it’s really quite a task to determine whether these were good, bad or indifferent or, as many reporters like to style things these days, whether they actually coincided with their own viewpoints.
We obviously form our own opinions but how much of this is merely a composite of several snatches of media information that have come our way rather than an objective and personal assessment of a situation ? How real is it, how representative is it and how skewed is the angle of the reporters argument ? We’ll probably never know the extent of all these questions but it begs the thought that public opinion on important national matters is increasingly vulnerable to a vocal minority who may be very savvy at delivering their brand of the message. We now have presidents and lords alike using snatch media outlets like Twitter to distribute an instant thought and some of us are going to be influenced by this rapid, staccato style of thinking and commenting - after all, we are busy people with limited time to spend on considering the truth behind a personality burst of wisdom - are we not ? Yet if we look deeper - and I’ll use Donald Trump as an example - it becomes clear that his qualification to make such often vile and spontaneous outbursts is almost non-existent. Now this isn’t a special dig at el Trumpo, whatever I may privately think about him, but it is an illustration of a method of swaying views and opinions on a mass scale whilst backed up by the scantest of truth or reality. The climb down on North Korean strategy by the president is a current example of the spontaneous having to be corrected by the reality.
The worlds media is now super strong and highly influential. It is often guilty of putting self interest at the heart of its reporting rather than - where the occasion arises - of putting a national interest at the heart. And that’s a danger to democracy. We are already seeing democracy in our Western world being frayed at the edges by corrosive and often deliberate attempts at national subversion. Cynicism of a government’s actions is one thing, subversion and sabotage is quite something else. We all need to build our opinion making skills up to try and see the truth in reporting as much as the hidden agenda’s.