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Thursday, 18 January 2018

The dangers of the media echo chamber

We have moved into an age in which the traditional news media no longer merely report the news but seek to shape it. Newspapers and broadcast media have become political actors, campaigns and even parties. As a consequence, the trust that the public used to invest in establishment entities such as the BBC, or the 'broadsheet' press, has disappeared. They are all guilty of disseminating 'Fake News', and public trust of journalists and journalism is now in the gutter. Alongside that of politicians. 

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 - 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. 


Ed P said...

I consider the BBC & The Guardian are both beyond reform, in terms of truthful and unbiased reporting.

Unfortunately the inherent disregard for the rights of non-Muslims, especially women, is embedded in the upbringing and education of those mainly from the NW territories, although it's undoubtedly exacerbated by the change to city-dwelling.

Dave_G said...

"we run the risk of enhancing the profile of pages meant to incite hatred online.


Such sites aren't there to incite hatred - the hatred is created by the actions of those that throw our welcome, our hospitality, our heritages, our beliefs etc back in our faces and .gov allow them to get away with their actions by simply refusing to vet, restrict of repatriate [potential] offenders. Simply because a website is created to identify the issue(s) isn't reason enough to consider their actions that of incitement.

How many cheeks do we have to turn?

Der Spiegel might be heads and shoulders above the rest of the media in approaching these issues but they still do so with an inherent belief that it's more (all) 'our' fault than it is 'theirs'.

I've always said, you simply can't address the problems until you recognise (and acknowledge) the problems. Der Spiegel are getting there - but they still have a long way to go.

Gordon the Fence Post Tortoise said...

Of course then - there's Sweden...

jack ketch said...

the extent of Soviet rape in Berlin - the Downfall

I take it though that the mass rapings in Hamburg etc by British troops are still taboo? I seem to recall figures that spoke of hundreds in just one day.

Gordon the Fence Post Tortoise said...

Reuters reports Swedish PM considering putting army on the streets - not something that'll likely be relayed by many in the MSM - until the first firefight.

selsey.steve said...

The ROPERS rape. In their eyes it is not a crime to forcibly penetrate a 'kuffur' woman because she might give birth to a Moo-Slime. (Are we being monitored on this blog?) This is because their "bible" tells them so.
In their minds, they are right, there is no crime.

Bill Quango MP said...

jack ketch:
yes its true there were reports of hundreds of rapes in Hamburg.
if you wish to believe the writings of notorious and serial liar David Irving, holocaust denier and phony historian, that's up to you.

And helps to highlight Raedwald's point about echo chambers.

jack ketch said...

@ Bill Quango , I wouldn't piss on Irving if he were on fire, anti-Semite that he is. I wasn't even aware he written about it- and I'm not going to bother checking what he wrote because it will be garbage . Safe to say, IF he claims hundreds then I would divide by a factor of ten at least just on the principle that he is, as you say, a serial liar.

As far as I know no serious historian disputes the HH rapes took place, the question is who did most of raping -was it mainly Brit troops or 'freed slave labourers' and was it with or without the connivance/blind eye turned of the British military authority.

DeeDee99 said...

On Sky News yesterday I watched Mark Thompson (former head of the BBC and now CEO at The New York Times) complain at length about Donald Trump's "Fake News Awards."

He was outraged that the President should dare call into question the veracity of news reports carried by the mainstream media accusing him of undermining the idea of a Free Press.

Not one word was said by Thompson or his Sky interviewer about the manipulation of facts or the sustained anti-Trump campaign which the American and British media have carried out since he became Republican Candidate and then President.

With no mandate whatsoever, they have set themselves up as the arbiter of who is "suitable" to become President ..... and then have the nerve to complain when the democratically elected President fights back.

If they think people can't see through the anti-Trump propaganda, they're really not that bright.

Anonymous said...

Change only occurs from one generation to the next and not overnight. The question for the west is; will it be too late?

Poisonedchalice said...

Publish the truth and be damned. There, fixed that for Arthur Wellesley.

Gordon the Fence Post Tortoise said...

OT - a bit

I see Mark Thompson's old chum Michael Jackson is playing second fiddle producer to Michael Woolff on the production of "Fire & Fury" TV / Film version.

It's of note that the publisher of Woolf's book is the man who hyped Dan Brown's career into existence.

Hector Drummond, Vile Novelist said...

"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."

In other words, "if we do write about specific websites like the one covered in this story, we run the risk of failing in our duty as political operatives disguised as journalists".