MINOT, N.D. — Today, after I file this column, I’m scheduled to address a class at Minot State University about working in journalism, and I’ve been thinking that I’d like to talk about how difficult it is, in the modern media environment, to get people to pay attention to things they don’t like.
Or to stop believing things that are false because those false things fit their preconceived notions.
It was easier in the past because the news media was more monolithic. There were just a handful of national nightly news broadcasts, a few national publications, and then local media. Often, these news outlets all reported variations of the same stories.
That wasn’t a good thing in that it concentrated the power of the press into too small a group of people. Dan Rather is 90 years old and more than a decade removed from his disgraceful exit as anchor of a national nightly news broadcast , but I suspect more Americans know his name than any of the current national evening news anchors.
One advantage the past had over the status quo was that the audience had less opportunity to indulge its biases.