Does New Media Encourage Division?

A very interesting Op-Ed piece in today’s New Haven Register.

Does today’s new media nurture division and not dialogue? At first, newspapers allowing a free flow of dialogue at the end of their online stories seemed like an excellent way for readers to interact with each other and help find some common ground on difficult issues.  However, as the Op-Ed points out, divisiveness – not compromise – is the end result.

A quick read of comments following an article — particularly one concerning a topic that could be a launching point for a political argument — reveals not thoughtful give-and-take of citizens, but rather angry sniping of the close-minded. Much is mean-spirited and sophomoric. Hate-filled dialogue on the Internet is so prevalent it has a label: “flaming.” Welcome to “public discourse” in the digital age.

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One Response

  1. It’s not the media, it’s the style of journalism that outlets are choosing. If the paper decides to print a scurrilous charge from one political actor, and the “journalism” is the act of calling up an opposing political actor for a response, you’re going to get a heated back-and-forth in comments.

    If the media outlet instead pursues evidence of whether a particular proposal has been tried elsewhere and seeks expert commentary on why it would (or would not) work, then you get comments of a different sort.

    “Let’s you and him fight” equals eyeballs. Just because content is on a computer screen doesn’t make it divisive — the tendency to seek the lowest common denominator makes content divisive.

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