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This is the last blog post for my grad school class called Knowledge and New Media. I’ve been asked to reconsider my first blog post to see if my view of media use and influence has changed.

“But does all of this media influence my perspective of world events? I don’t think so. At least not to the degree that the critics maintain. The media influences my awareness of world events but can only influence my perspective if I am a lazy consumer.”

Those were the words I wrote back in September. My thinking is fundamentally unchanged although during the couse of the class it became obvious how much easier it is to be a lazy consumer, aka media illiterate.

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The reader/consumer has a responsibility for their own media literacy and even moreso the writer has great responsibility. Actually, in my view the role and ethicality of the writer is paramount because today they hold nearly ALL of the power.

Back in the day of big daily newspapers and three television stations (practically seems pre-historic) info consumption was a simpler matter. We had a limited number of writers, all vetted, the writing checked, edited, and verified. Enter the world wide web. Today anyone with wifi and a phone can write and report if they choose to. Everyone is a reporter, editor, publisher. Mind  blown.

New media makes writing and so-called reporting easy. It also makes publication or broadcast easier. World Wide Web anyone? Bloggers are self publishers. Think about that for a moment. Bottom line, the writer is and the writing is critical because less vetting occurs when new media or social media is the sole “publisher.”

So much available info means that the personal responsibility of the writer to be ethical is critically important. Unethical, ill-informed, inaccurate  writing is dangerous. Dangerous to the consumer, dangerous to the media industry and frankly dangerous to our society. As Brooke Gladstone wrote, “we all have a right to our own opinion but not to our own facts.”

Ethically, I think the most viable and valuable writer concept of our age is transparency.

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If the writer has an agenda, just tell me. If the writer has a mission I want to know what it is.  Transparency and the ensuing consumer trust in that behavior is the great consumer safety net. Writers acting unethically is the black hole of media illiteracy. As a society we won’t know who to believe or how or when. As Ms. Gladstone reminds us, we are not entitled to our own facts. (2012)

The importance of writer transparency really grows out of new media, as Jeff Jarvis explains in this video:

Reporters today have the potential for greater power via lightening fast 24/7 new media but that power is offset by the explosion of information options. A daily newspaper has been replaced by news feeds, social media, hundreds of cable channel and on and on. Ad naseum.

The consumption of old school reporting may actually be on the decline so the need for ethics has increased. Readers must strive to build their own media literacy. Do more checking, ask more questions, not take writing at the face (and often unverified) value.  Becoming “media literate” reduces the potential for content consumers to be unduly, unfairly, dishonestly influenced!

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A final thought. We had a reading assignment for this last week and I was struck by the audacity, power and truth of:

TOO BIG TO KNOW: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren’t the Facts, Experts are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room.(Weinberger, D. 2012)

To be honest (and when am I not?) I was simply struck by the fact that at the end of this, my first grad school class, the book title really says it all about Knowledge and New Media. The facts aren’t the facts, experts are everywhere, and the smartest person in the room is the room. Truth.

 

Sources:

Gladstone, B., and Weinberger, D. (2012) The Changing Nature of Knowledge in the Internet Age. pp 1. On the Media. Retrieved from http://onthemedia.org/story/18775-changing-nature-knowledge-internet-age-transcrip

Jarvis, J. (2012) Jeff Jarvis on a Journalistic Code of Ethics. Big Think. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVAePShP50M

Weinberger, D. (2012) Too Big To Know. Basic Books . New York, New York

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