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We’ve heard, and will continue to hear, the ways in which imperfect news sources are doing some well-deserved soul searching with regard to their failures. In recent years, once-trusted journalists failed to remain focused on following the facts (time consuming) rather the scoop (speed sells).


News outlets we’ve previously trusted failed to thoroughly investigate reports, driven more by ratings and sales than by their duty to inform.
 
Full-on Fake news (like ‘Hillary Clinton Runs Child Sex Ring In Pizzeria’) is thankfully not quite as common as the more insidious and dangerous partial-truth reports.

Partial-truth news contain a splash of fact in order to make a story plausible, but is peppered with falsehoods, usually skewed toward a particular ideology. Some call this ‘flawed news’ but I think that’s overly generous. It lends an air of “whoops!” rather than the purposeful manipulation: click and share.
 
Today, there’s a perfect example of this. Just look at your Trending News sidebar on Facebook (their fake news problem is story all its own) or on your search engine’s news toggle:

LENA DUNHAM SAYS SHE STILL HASN’T HAD AN ABORTION, BUT WISHES SHE HAD
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Commence eye rolling.
Egads, we’ve all heard how crazy Lena Dunham is (gosh, must be true, everyone says it’s so!). And, after all, this has been news all day. Maybe you don’t even know who she is, but I’m pretty sure you’ve heard by now that she’s nuts (she’s not).

The point is this: those headlines are consistent with the irritated buzz they’ve previously generated, and that you’ve already absorbed about her, so there’s no need to investigate, right? Her quote sounds insane. Suddenly the headlines sound plausible.

 
Wrong.
Context matters, even in seemingly inconsequential moments like these.

The more you passively peruse click bait, the more it influences and degrades your critical thinking and information gathering skills.

But, often, you don’t even need to read a lengthy article in order to easily uncover the truer-but-less-click-worthy context.

 
Information is power. So, because you value Information over riot-inducing sound bites (even if you don’t know or care about Lena Dunham) here’s a bit from today’s Yahoo.com news:

On her podcastWomen of the Hour, the 30-year-old actress tackled the topic of abortion, saying that although she hasn’t had one, she wished she had. Dunham began by talking about how she was raised by her mother to be pro-choice.

“From an early age, she taught my younger sibling and me to say ‘anti-choice’ instead of ‘pro-life’ because she wanted to make sure that we knew that everyone is pro-life,” Dunham said. “Some people are anti-choice.”

Despite her pro-choice view, Dunham realized that even she unknowingly carried with her a stigma around the topic.

“One day, when I was visiting a Planned Parenthood in Texas a few years ago, a young girl walked up to me and asked me if I’d like to be a part of her project in which women share their stories of abortions,” she recalled. “I sort of jumped. ‘I haven’t had an abortion,’ I told her. I wanted to make it really clear to her that as much as I was going out and fighting for other women’s options, I myself had never had an abortion. And I realized then that even I was carrying within myself stigma around this issue. Even I, the woman who cares as much as anybody about a woman’s right to choose, felt it was important that people know I was unblemished in this department.”

She added, “Now I can say that I still haven’t had an abortion, but I wish I had.”

The ideology driving this particular click bait is firmly rooted in the Anti-Woman, Anti-Choice, let’s-get-women-to-attack-each-other camp. The headline seems to suggest: How can she objectify something so (fill in your own blank)?

The real news here is subtext. It’s ugly and noteworthy. What they’re really asking us to think is this:
Who does she think she is being young, free, vocal, successful?
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How dare she have a voice!
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