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Cable News, Information and Political Discourse


1:07 pm
April 15, 2011

christian briggs

Bloomington, IN


posts 71


I was reading through Kevin Makice's blog post on things that happened in 1986, and i happened across the fact that Fox News launched in that year. 

As a sort of informal research study on news media, i have been watching CNN and Fox News daily for the last several years, and believe i have noticed an decrease in the quality of political discourse on both of these stations, as well as between everyday people. 

I have also noticed an increase in the amount, speed and scale of information that has been hammering people in that space of time. I haven't dug deeply into the empirical studies to confirm this, but one study (pdf) suggests that  American per capita time spent consuming information has risen nearly 60 percent from 1980 levels – from 7.4 hours per day in 1960, to 11.8 in 2008.

Personally, i would have thought that more information would have contributed to better discourse since 1986, but i think we are seeing the opposite. I have some ideas on why this might be, but what do you all think?

9:37 am
April 16, 2011




posts 20


I have come to understand that many people choose a loyalty and practice it often.  The only reason these people seek news is to validate their loyalty position.  Consequently the message is only important  because of the source.  In these cases facts are inconvenient an abstraction they would prefer to ignore.


4:31 pm
April 18, 2011

christian briggs

Bloomington, IN


posts 71


Post edited 4:32 pm – April 18, 2011 by christian briggs

Hi Craig,

I think you are probably right, and that this has probably always been a part of human nature. I'm wondering though, why there appears (to me at least) to be a decrease in the quality of discourse in the last few years beyond what i might expect historically, and if this decline is related to the 60 percent increase in information processing going on. Does the wider, faster stream of information make it easier to skip over inconvenient facts (by this i means facts that might cause me to question my loyalties)? 


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