State of Mankind

A New Way Of Thinking

Eco-Fads, The Media

Todd Myers makes some really revealing remarks abou the media in his book Eco-Fads. I would encourage everyone to read and internalize this to come to a better understanding about how we get the information that shapes our world view. Todd Myers is a true environmentalist (perhaps his book makes him an activist), who has concerns about what he calls Eco-Fads. These are things that people do because they believe they are helping the environment but may actually be doing damage. He serves as Environmental Director at the Washington Policy Center in Seattle. He adds a really interesting perspective. I’ll probably give a full review when
I’ve completed the book, and I have done the needed study. Myers on the media:

The media readily embraces eco-fads that offer uncomplicated and compelling stories with the promise of environmental benefit. This effect is compounded when environmental reporters are chose BECAUSE OF THEIR COMMITMENT TO A PARTICULAR SET OF ENVIRONMENTAL POLICIES rather than their undirected intellectual curiosity….

Environmental groups offer awards to environmental reporters for stories these groups feel help the cause. News stories that highlight a potential environmental danger are much more likely to win these awards, particularly the more prestigious awards, than stories examining failed environmental policies or indicating that a potential environmental threat is not all that it is pruported to be. Reporters who write stories about potential threats that never materialize are rarely questioned or criticized afterwards. There will be many more hard questions asked of a reporter who downplays a potential threat that turns out to be real. As a result, environmental reporters, especially those with a sympathetic ideological bent, are more likely to err on the side of exaggerating threats than to offer a mild or moderate assessment of environmental risks.

Frequently, the result of this exaggeration is not benign. The public and policymakers take cues from the media about what priorities are important and how they stack up against other issues of the day. Reporters who exaggerate environmental risks to commpete for the attention of editors and the public can cause policymakers to waste money and resources on heavily reported, but minor, problems, leaving fewer resources to address more serious issues. (Eco-Fads, Pages 23-24, emphasis mine)

In my experience (see http://www.stateofmankind.com/tragedy-and-hope-review/viii-the-media/) he hits the nail on the head, and this can be applied to every category of reporting. Also, combining his observations of the media with Quigley’s, one can see how easy it is for the powers that run the media to shape the collective mentality regarding just about every subject. In this way, sometimes our best informed citizens can be the least informed, especially if their belief in the mainstream media causes them to ignore other, contradictory sources of information.

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