Thursday, March 10, 2011

Newspapers in the Old Days

Which brings us to the rise of Fox News. If mere information provision is no longer profitable, who will volunteer to subsidize a news operation? Someone who is looking to re-design the flower beds - or a nation's government.

Yet as an explanation for the rise of Fox News, this is too easy. Why did Katie Couric ask Sarah Palin which newspapers or magazines she read? It's because what we read defines us. Like it or loathe it, Fox News provides its viewers with a strong sense of identity: Fox Viewers are Stupid, Less Informed and the list goes on.

Now what is the basis for that statement. Google's search suggestions? Is there any fact that one who watches Fox is stupid? Let's see, 14 books, 125 papers, six start ups, four Professor positions, six languages, ah stupid! You see I watch Fox, also MSNBC, PBS and even CSPAN! Now perhaps we down here should take our guidance from those up there but alas, we do not, except I do listen to my Nova Scotian wife! So why all the upsetness, my neologism, as to Fox? A lot is just "entertainment". Now I do not go to football games but I hear many people do, it is their entertainment. I do not go to hockey either but I gather my friends up north do.

Thus the better thing to do is ask why do people watch say Fox over MSNBC, perhaps it is "obvious" to some but a fact based analysis would help. No one in my opinion really buys pure news. They buy a package. In some cases it is entertainment, in other cases it is reinforcement of their own views. In today's Internet world one often must create their own news, scanning across a multiplicity of sources. They are there and one gets to make a judgment as to what is and is not "real". One uses analytical reasoning to accept or reject the "facts". Thus out of hand dismissing of the Fox audiences is a contradiction to that method, the method of fact based accumulation of knowledge.

The Fox viewer is there. Okay, who are they, I would assume they are not all neanderthals. Remember back in the old days, the 1940s, there were dozens of newspapers, and people often read two to three each day. No television. I would suspect that the same happens today. There are those who switch from Fox to PBS and then back again. That does not make them troglodytes.