By: Reilly McGale
“Narrow” Broadcast Media
This idea that certain forms of media are not made to appeal to everyone has many effects on who we would interact with. If there is a webvpage devoted to talking about problems that face today’s girls, then automatically the sites appeal is cut almost in half because it’s not going to interest men for the most part. The proposed problem with this is that if these forms of media don’t concern everyone, then supposedly the people that frequent them won’t get the input of people outside that small group, and will therefore be isolated from them. I find this theory is both true and untrue circumstantially.
Portland may just be the largest exception to the rule. It seems that everywhere you go someone is doing something extremely out of the ordinary. People will go to great lengths to ensure that they are doing something that could not be considered mainstream. Even if that is not the complete goal the idea is that they are putting something out there that either is not out there yet, or is completely unique to them. There is a definite possibility that it might alienate others, but in our city, it seems to have the opposite effect on the public. Most people see someone riding a double or triple-decker bicycle and instead of feeling uncomfortable by something so strange they see it as a spectacle, one that might not be seen everywhere and cherish moments like this. However, even when people are not alienated by things like that, it doesn’t mean that they are necessarily driven to join them which is another point entirely. If the people who are doing these unorthodox things or entering these types of forums with their ideas are unable to relate at all or interact with people outside of this small realm then this would exhibit more of the fears the author expresses.
The public sphere would be effected by this narrowcasting of media outlets because when people are accustomed to only stretching their perception a little when speaking to people of a certain demographic, or with the same ideas, then they lose their sight of themselves in relation to others. The users could either not want to participate at all in the public sphere or would represent such an extreme view that other people would not be able to find common ground with them. Both possibilities can potentially hurt the idea of a public sphere, or at least hinder it’s effectiveness.
An example of an individual having extreme ideas is when rapper Kanye West took the opportunity during the hurricane Katrina aid television special to express his ideas about the president’s lack of concern with helping the African American citizens of the tragedy. He used this forum to speak on a theory that was largely unfounded, and in later interviews would not discuss his sudden outburst of what the white house called “slander”. This hurt his message because if he had presented evidence that he could prove or maybe was more subtle with his accusations then maybe people would be more compelled to back his theory. However, by just spouting about how the president “hates black people,” there becomes a lot less common ground for the public to find and at least begin to validate his ideas with a helpful response. I’m sure there were plenty of people that may have had similar thoughts about the tragedy in New Orleans, but who is gonna jump onto the bandwagon of such an unpopular opinion, especially one that was so public, and heavily criticized.
“Doubtsourced” Daily Show on Fox News’ cover of President Obama’s trip to india.
I’m sure it is a trite choice of example and has definately been driven into the ground, but the cable “news” organization FOX News is most definitely a right wing source for daily happenings in politics and otherwise. People like Glen Beck who will only allow guests on that will drive either his point home, or has been known to spout confusing and false statements to confuse his viewers. I once heard from a friend of mine that even watching Glen Beck with the sound off, you can still see how much he hates Obama, because when and image of him pops onto the screen, his face droops into a disgusted and disapproving glare. This network rarely has democrats on their programs, and when they do they engage in a cutthroat debate where the republican working for the network rarely lets them finish a thought before interrupting them, or mixes their words and twists them to make them sound incompetent. These tactics seem to be used to make the guest very uncomfortable and keep them on the spot so they are unable to convey their core message. From the viewer’s perspective it appears that all democrats don’t know what they are talking about and a stereotype may begin to form about people with those views. This all contributes to an ever widening gap between political parties.
All of these things greatly concern me because I believe that the will of the people should be the will of the world. But people are becoming less and less willing to talk about things like politics, and they are becoming taboo because suddenly they don’t need to listen to the “nuts,” or people they believe have wrong ideas about our world. Not to say that one wouldn’t benefit from cultivating and honing their ideas by bouncing them off of people who have similar views and can help them bridge the gap towards more mainstream views. I see that as a great tool for development of one’s own opinions, but they are being used to create warring factions that make our world more difficult to keep a sense of self within stringent party lines.