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How Will It All End?

Facts, alternative facts and opinions.

If you want good investigative reporting, you need to have a large newspaper with deep journalistic resources that can be devoted to specific subject areas. This rarely exists anymore except in major metropolitan areas, and even those papers’ news departments have endured deep cuts to staff resources.

What we are left with is some investigative reporting on the part of local television stations — maybe. Reporters hop from story to story with little background on the topic they will be covering for that day.

I read this quote today in a summary about the pandemic, but they were also painting the picture for our “modern” media:

“Over the past several decades, the media industry has fractured and restructured in ways that have transformed the national media environment, including Washington’s. The rise of online media and social media, along with a shift of advertising dollars away from newspapers, has decimated many local newspapers that were an important source of locally relevant information for both urban and rural communities.

“At the same time, social media algorithms have created and reinforced media bubbles at the individual and group levels, based on online user preferences and behavior, so that the views and opinions an individual is exposed to narrows over time in response to what the algorithms determine to be preferences.”

We’ve all heard of the echo chamber that people find themselves caught in. Every news story — or I should say “commentary” — reinforces what they already believe, and they are never challenged to consider a different viewpoint. No thinking required! Just outrage over this or that.

There is nothing that I can do to change the situation. Everyone has retreated to their respective camps and are tossing hand grenades over the wall — at people and organizations they have been told are wrong, evil and discredited.

How will it all end? Living in the media age, it doesn’t appear that we’ll be called an “Age of Enlightenment” in the future.
Eric Holdeman is a contributing writer for Emergency Management magazine and is the former director of the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management.