Doug Haslam

Gischeleman: "To Create With the Mind"

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Responsibility of the audience


Chris Brogan, Mochant, Kosso at Boston TweetUp


Last night I attended one of the several Boston “Tweetups” that have been gathering lately. These are meetings of people who converse regularly on Twitter, but value face-to-face meetings as well. This TweetUp included several prolific Twitterers, including PodCamp founder Chris Brogan, blogger/storyteller/ZDNet columnist Marc Orchant, and John “Kosso” Kossman of Podcast.com and Kosso’s Braingarden, all pictured. Also attending were Sooz of the new BostonNow paper, Schuyler Erle of MetaCarta and WhereCamp, and Kristen “KrooshCrusius.

Ok, on to the title of this post. We talked about a number of subjects, and one of my favorites came up: the responsibility of the audience. Ever since my days as a Mass communications major at Emerson College, I have been turned on the idea of perspective in the media. What that means is that the audience has the responsibility to consider the perspective of the content creator when reading, viewing or listening.

this came up in the concept of the Nikon D80 blogger outreach campaign. My point there is that I know the blogger will feel warmly towards Nikon, so I take any positive review as a certain % of BS, but– give me specifics of how the camera works, how it is different, why you like– or hate– it. Give me enough information to agree or disagree with you and make my own decision. I also brought up the example of any public demonstration, typical of which was the Million Man March of 1995. Organizers, according to Wikipedia (talk about considering your sources) said there were as many as 2 million people at the March, while U.S. Park police said there about 400,000. Well, somebody’s wrong. This is why newspapers should report both numbers. Each side has its own reason to exaggerate or downplay certain facts.

The concept of the critical audience has become more obvious in this age of bloggers. “Surely, these bloggers aren’t journalists, they must have biases. We can’t trust them.” All true but the last part. The thing is, we needed to be a critical audience before the days of blogs. For the CBS evening News, for the New York Times, for Time Magazine.

This has not changed for blogs, but I do think this attitude towards blogs is a good thing– it will make us a more critical audience to the mainstream media as well. Don’t assume political reporting is even-keeled, look at the body of the reporter’s work, and take any potential agendas into consideration. Do the same for your sports reporters your movie reviewer, and of course bloggers and podcasters, and be able to pick out the facts from the point of view. Nothing is purely objective, no matter how hard any journalist might try.

Content producers have the responsibility to disclose, to represent their views as they are to the best of their ability- and heck, to keep the audience interested in coming back. Prying some form of the truth from a host of human perspectives; that is the responsibility of the audience.

What are your thoughts?

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2 Responses to Responsibility of the audience

  1. This is the lesson I didn’t know I needed to learn until this last year. I’m not kidding. I understood that Fox News was biased, but I never thought NPR was. See? It’s when you think you see the reveal that the true magic trick sneaks past you.

  2. Doug Haslam says:

    But is NPR- or Fox news for that matter– actually biased? By my accounting, yes, but you need to go deeper than networks, to reporters,writers, even types of stories.
    Do you believe Bill O’Reilly’s claims that he is not a hard-line right-winger? I do, after listening to him for a bit.
    And don’t just blindly follow claims of “liberal bias” in the mass media. you can find “news” stories that swing both ways in one paper, such as the New York Times. I came away amazed after reading analyses of presidential race coverage in 2000 and 2004. I decided that the decision to pile on or take down a candidate was based not on ideology, but the availability, even the size, of the target.
    For media criticism I have been a big fan, especially in election cycles, of Bob Somerby of the <a href=”http://www.thedailyhowler.com” rel=”nofollow”>Daily Howler</a>. He tends toward the liberal side, but that is far from an absolute.

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