In this fast paced world, we are presented our news in a quick fashion, no matter the medium, i.e. television, print, digital or radio. Moreover, the political landscape of today is much more convoluted than the situation a few decades back. In fact, there seems to be no black and white, instead the whole situation is made up of grey areas.
For everyday Americans, the political scenario is increasingly proving impossible to navigate and many have given up trying to make sense of it all. This is a huge shift from the situation even a few years back and will no doubt have pivotal consequences in the upcoming American elections next year.
News burnout, as it is being termed, means that voters are no longer making decisions based on facts and updated news but rather their fixed views. This is true not just in America, but the rest of the world, as a big global trend among voters is to stay removed from political reporting and instead focusing on preset notions of candidates or parties.
A weakened fourth estate means that democracy
itself stands to lose and if the general public
no longer puts their faith
in the news media, power will
undoubtedly go unchecked
One of the things pushing away news consumers is the prevalence of fake news, particularly on social news. It is becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate real reports from news which distorts the truth.
A problem which is not unique to the US is the presence of partisan news. Therefore, instead of neutral, unbiased news, many media outlets tend to present their own version of facts according to their own political leanings. In turn, viewers and readers veer towards media outlets which present them with news which caters to their political bias, which creates an echo chamber of thoughts, enforcing personal dogmatic beliefs.
The emergence of conflicting reports on any given issue is now an everyday scenario. The very credibility of news outlets has been brought into question as anyone anywhere can publish any sort of information they want to and pass it off as news. Commentary and opinion have become interchangeable with facts as everyone has a platform to voice their thoughts.
The younger generation in particular, no longer has the time or patience to sift through the barrage of news to find accurate information. The whole task of keeping up with the news has become tedious for them, which does not bode well for our future. These young people will one day become leaders and pioneers in their fields and the fact that they are opting to stay uninformed is a terrifying thought.
In Bangladesh and elsewhere, the sheer volume of international and national news coming in everyday is daunting and perhaps impossible for everyday citizens to keep track of. Globalization and increased connectivity has increased the influx of news manifold. Moreover, the symbiotic relationship between the world nations means that each and every global event is connected in a manner that is difficult for a layman to easily comprehend.
Furthermore, news is no longer coming from one or two fixed sources like in the past. Before, one had to actively seek out news, either by flipping through the pages of a newspaper or by switching on the television or radio. That is no longer the case as news sources has proliferated and one is bombarded with all kinds of news throughout the day. Particularly to blame are the social media platforms, with their unchecked inflow of news at all hours of the day.
While this might be good if one chooses to stay updated at all times, it is causing burnout and stress among the general population. Even though we are being exposed to news all day long, we are longer able to process it all as the barrage of news is too high in volume for a person to keep up with.
The key players in the global political arena, i.e. politicians are increasing passing of their own judgment as the truth instead of relying on hard facts to get the point across. Same can be said for some news analysts who pass of their own opinion as true facts in order to influence the masses.
Conspiracy theories and fringe discourse often based on pure speculation is becoming more popular in the political sphere, leading many to question the veracity of news being presented. In places with authoritarian leadership, propaganda is presented as the truth which creates serious mistrust of news media among the general populace.
Loss of media credibility is a very grave issue indeed. A weakened fourth estate means that democracy itself stands to lose and if the general public no longer puts their faith in the news media, power will undoubtedly go unchecked.
The news media as a whole must fight to prevent the whole sector from being invalidated. We must all take a serious stance against fake news and biased reporting if we are to remain relevant and credible. We must also find new ways to navigate through the wide array of information that is available to us.
Synthia Kainath Nur is a member of the editorial team, Bangladesh Post