Monday, 22 April 2019

The media is a strange animal

which largely feeds off the misfortune of others.
Bad news sells. Ridiculous news sells. Silly news sells. Sensational news sells.
Part of my job involves needing to know what is going on in the world. I read a lot of news from a wide variety of sources.  I need to read most of it in English simply because my ability to read other languages is limited and it takes time, more time than I have.  I get news directly from people who are "on the ground" in a situation and I get it from journalists  who will often appear to be in the middle of a situation as well. 
And yes, some journalists are doing a very dangerous job. They get killed doing it, even in places which should now be safe. Last week Lyra McKee was killed in Northern Ireland. She was simply doing her job. Nobody has yet been charged but there is a new and far more dangerous breed of "terrorist" now.  
Technology has made all the difference to the way those committed to murder and mayhem can communicate with one another. It is possible to direct terrorist operations from the opposite  side of the world. 
That terrifies me. It astounds me that people like Orla Guerin are still alive. They are prime candidates for assassination.
And there is something else that worries me. It is the way that even reputable journalists will peddle "fake" news. Yesterday a senior journalist at the national newspaper did just that. I suspect it was one of those moments when something that appeared to support his point of view seemed too useful to ignore.  There is a report in this morning's paper by a columnist known for stirring the pot (with a good dose of vinegar and bicarbonate of soda added) about a journalist who has allegedly deliberately misreported a private conversation and the timing of it - a conversation that was almost certainly obtained  by illegally tapping someone's phone. 
All this is dangerous, very dangerous. It is what we first see, hear, read and feel that tends to stay with us. It is why the Jesuits wanted their students young.  It is why the young Swedish climate activist is getting so much attention. Those pulling the strings behind her - and yes, they are - understand the psychology very well.
Media, even social media, is an essential part of my job but I am worried at the increasing amount of false information being peddled by those with ulterior motives. 
So SATBYR - Stop And Think Before You Retweet?

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