Recently, I attended a talk given by the journalist, Richard Black to a group of scientists and engineers. He used a show of hands to establish that none us read the tabloid newspapers and told us we were all weird. He went on to discuss how we live in bubble and rarely come into contact with people outside of it. In media terms, I live in a bubble that can be defined by BBC Radio 4 in the UK or NPR in USA. And, I was surprised how easy it was to substitute NPR for BBC Radio 4 when we moved to the USA, so the bubble extends across national boundaries. But, nevertheless we live in a relatively small bubble because the tabloid papers are read by millions of people whereas the serious papers I prefer have only hundreds of thousands of readers. That’s why we are weird – we’re unusual. It’s also why we are surprised when electorates make apparently irrational decisions. However, they are only irrational to weird people who have access to the information and analysis available in our bubble.
We should not blame the media because most are simply businesses whose bottom line is profit, which means they have to be attractive to as many people as possible and there aren’t many people in our bubble, so most of the media doesn’t target us. The same logic applies to politicians who want to be elected.
Interestingly, ‘weird’ is a late middle-English word, originally meaning ‘having the power to control destiny’. So maybe being weird is a good thing?
Coldplay – High Speed (Lyrics): see Youtube for the stream.
Oh well! There goes my notion that my watching BBC 5 p.m. news before our national news, and trying to listen to as much late night BBC radio as I can, that I’m stepping out a bit from my “American” U.S. bubble. (Our NPR station switches to BBC overnight from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. so I miss most of it.) I do notice that BBC reporters are much tougher and apparently more educated interviewers, but maybe that just puts me deeper into a shared bubble, instead of stepping out of one as I thought.
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