The consequence of this is that most of us now communicate only in echo chambers, with those who share our views and beliefs, using sources that confirm such opinions. The more pronounced this becomes, the more polarised our nation and society, the greater the mistrust and the more egregious the Fake News. From both sides.
I have written before that I respect greatly the journalistic integrity of Der Spiegel, an openly left-liberal publication but one that fights the loss of journalistic professionalism in a way that the Guardian would simply not understand. It takes a certain courage for Spiegel to ask 'Is there truth to refugee rape reports?' and then to answer the question in a conditional affirmative. Something I suspect strongly that the Guardian would never do.
Germans are particularly sensitive to notions of mass rape. Antony Beevor helped lift the lid on the extent of Soviet rape in Berlin - the Downfall, bringing to a popular audience hidden records that both German and Russian authorities would rather have remained hidden. Rape and conquest, rape and invasion, are linked in German historic memory, so sex crimes attributed to migrants are big news. In the German echo chamber, no mainstream news outlet references the website Rapefugees.net - but Spiegel sought to challenge what it displayed.
They found that though many of the rape reports were either false or referred to sexual assaults that fall short of rape under German law, many others were based in fact. Now after finding this unwelcome result, a dishonest media outlet would have shelved the result. All credit to Spiegel for publishing. They write;
The classical media find themselves in a quandary here. If we don't write about the issue and about the rumours circulating on the internet, skeptics see that as proof that something is being hidden. Yet if we do write about specific websites like the one covered in this story, we run the risk of enhancing the profile of pages meant to incite hatred online.So yes, the pandemic of sex assaults carried out by migrants is based on reality. Police statistics back this up. But the real benefit of honest reporting across the echo chambers is to challenge prejudice and preconceptions; migrants commit sex assaults not because they are Muslims or brown, it is suggested, but because they are "more frequently young and male and are more likely to live in a large city, lack education, be unemployed and have no income".
Well, to a point, Lord Copper. I think why they commit such a high level of sex assaults is still open to judgement. But acknowledging that there is a problem is a good start for both polarised sides. And perhaps our UK media, including the BBC, can even learn a lesson that will allow them to raise their own gaze from the gutter.