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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Analytical Thinking about News Media 101

Whenever anyone writes anything, they want you, the reader, to think about something in the way they think about it. I, for example, want my readers to learn how to listen to the news media with new ears. So, I'll give you some tools to meet that end. This isn't really a step by step process but it's easiest to list it out as if it is.

  1. Before you can start thinking about why the news is presented in a certain way, you have to read or hear enough news to capture the prevailing sentiment and be aware of that sentiment rather than blindly accepting it as the bun (how the story is presented) around the hamburger (story). 
  2. Once you do that, you notice that most stories are drummed up as catastrophic, idiotic, praising, pandering, etc. This may either be overt or covert.
  3. Then you have to start thinking about why that media outlet would want you to think about that event that way. 
  4. You wonder what other people think about it, and you search out the opposite point of view to gather more information.
  5. As you listen to or read the other side of the story, you begin to piece together a multi-dimensional understanding of what actually happened, and how both sides feel about it.
  6. You may now have enough information to pick a side with which you agree with if any. You may not, and may wish to do more research. 
The person who taught me how to do this? Rush Limbaugh. He has superb analytical skills. I don't always entirely agree with his analysis, but I do always value his opinions because of his skill set. I recommend listening to him or reading him for a few weeks to get a feel for the process.

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