From the Left: The value of my opinion
Published: Friday, September 14, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02
Hello fellow liberals. I am calling you that for two reasons. Firstly, you have the basic literacy required to read this, and secondly, you are choosing to read this.
The initial potshot aside, I actually am struck by the gravitation of a large portion of the public toward opinion-based media. Worse the fact that the public generally leans toward sources that just confirm what they already believe.
I’ve got to stop it right here. I don’t want to risk losing you forever. In many situations there is value to opinion (especially mine), and I want you to see when and where that is.
Opinion is extremely valuable as a complement to the traditional unbiased news story. Straight news reporting is not just found in the papers, but does dominate this medium. Alternatively, on stations such as Fox News and MSNBC, you are faced with opinion-only “journalism” pretty much all afternoon and evening.
Getting hammered by your own opinions is not healthy. People get pleasure out of hearing their world views confirmed. But knowledge takes a back seat and hearing how persecuted your side is all day will put you in a corner. Like any animal, people are aggressive and irrational when cornered.
Newspapers allow you to choose the story you read at any given time. You also choose when to read the opinion section, and are much more likely to read an opposing position such as mine every week or two than to ever watch something as infuriating as Fox.
When you read the work of an ideological opponent, you gain understanding of his or her opinion, and he or she sometimes seems less threatening.
Because this is a newspaper, I was probably wrong to assume or jest that none of my readers are conservative. A newspaper or website that does not have an institutionally mandated bias is a breeding ground for discussion because both liberals and conservatives will feel comfortable as part of it.
If only one opinion or side is presented, there is no competition. Ideas stagnate when there is no discussion, only agreement.
When members of either side of the divide are only hearing things that they like, they will be so unused to being challenged that they can no longer compromise. Fox News and MSNBC have affected our government’s ability to accomplish anything.
When newspapers were the dominant source of news, more laws were passed and greater things were achieved. I don’t expect physical newspapers to become that dominant again, but online editions would do the job.
Fox and MSNBC are designed to entertain to some extent, which leaves the less-biased and perhaps more boring CNN out of the picture. In general, choosing a news source for entertainment value is flawed, except when the source is not hiding it.
Choose news for efficiency and for its value as news. Read opinion to gain a better perspective on issues and to see how they affect you. Don’t only read your opinion. Read me if you’re a conservative and read the other guy if you’re a liberal.
Do I believe a column is likely to completely change someone from conservative to liberal or vice versa? Not really, or at least not very often. I would love to turn you all into left-wingers but will settle for changing minds on specific issues and making any conservative readers just a tad less crazy.
Miles Brady is a junior English major. He is a running enthusiast, a sports fan and very liberal on most issues. He also likes to think that he is very rational.