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Media's Spin Cycle

What Role Does Spin Play in Your Media Diet?

Watching the aftermath of today's big Obama speech, I noticed a very clear phenomenon. Post-speech, the morning anchors on CNN, Heidi Collins, and Tony Harris, took turns asking questions of political pundits — business as usual, except for one thing: each anchor had clearly been assigned a role. Harris's questions were passionate, seemingly a decided attempt to elicit pro-Obama answers. Conversely, Collins' questions were very pointed, repeatedly asking questions like, "if Obama didn't agree with Wright's statements, why didn't he leave the church?" Though media is also in the business of spin and opinion, placing usually objective anchors in those roles really stood out.

This coupled with the fact that in the 24-hour, insta-reaction, hypeaddled news culture, analysis isn't something that can be allowed to percolate. Wolf Blitzer has to tell you what to think before he even has a chance to think it for himself. Does this make for inaccurate analysis? Is it just sloppy spin? How much credibility do you give the spin cycle?

Wolf picture, shout out to tresjolie. . .


Join The Conversation
remedios remedios 9 years
spin = teh sucks.
stephley stephley 9 years
nicely put, lula
mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
"My hope is that this will change, and I feel what we are doing here on Citizensugar is doing that." :woohoo:
lula29 lula29 9 years
For me it's not just about the facts but about the visceral reaction of the viewer. When pundits add their too cents they take away from the initial response and that's the biggest problem I have with punditry. There are very few places these days where everyday people engage in political debate. Added to that is the fact that pundits shape our reactions to fit whatever bias they support. So we are silenced in 2 ways, by limited discussion and even when we do discuss at times we are merely discussing talking points doled out by pundits. My hope is that this will change, and I feel what we are doing here on Citizensugar is doing that.
redegg redegg 9 years
I really wish journalists would go back to objectivity. I don't want their opinions on whatever news they are reporting on. I feel like by the time they get to the end of their article I can tell who they are voting for. And I agree with the above poster who said that facts are often withheld. You can get completely different views of the same event from two or three different sources. Clips of videos don't show the whole thing. It's very frustrating and time consuming just to get the news. Sometimes I feel like the media really controls the country. If they are reporting the "facts" and no one ever really hears the truth without any spin to it then they can say things are however they want them to be. The majority of people will accept it.
bailaoragaditana bailaoragaditana 9 years
I find it quite amusing, in a Colbert Report type way - but I think it is quite damaging and drags the tone of politics even lower (no mean feat!)
syako syako 9 years
lainetm - you'd be really interested in reading this book - Just the facts by Mindich. It's about how objectivity came to be a virtue of journalism. I was really surprised to learn that it wasn't always the goal but it's more of a product of many occurrences (including Lincoln's press secretary!) It's also about how objectivity is one of those words like "reality" that doesn't really mean anything except when it is in quotes. It's a really interesting analysis of the American press and how we got this term "objective" to be a virtue when in fact most journalists have a hard time even explaining what "objectivity" means.
stephley stephley 9 years
I spent 20 years in broadcast journalism in Washington DC. As imperfect as the world I worked in was, I hear stuff today from those same newsrooms that I find jaw-dropping. Opinions, half-truths, repetitious stories that aren't updated. Spin sessions are just cheap ways to fill air - and a lot of what the pundits say is what they've heard at cocktail parties or in other studios. (Notice how often they all 'spontaneously' start using the same metaphors to describe an issue or event.) I think those interviews are fine if you're bored, or enjoy watching any of the people involved. But you don't want them interpreting the world for you.
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 9 years
There's been one or another form of "spin" forever. When important facts are withheld, whether by the source or the reporter, it slants the reader's ability to judge the situation. I try to mix up my reading / listening / viewing--and can always get another opinion here! Sometime in the last 25 years, objectivity has ceased to be a journalistic virtue. I did a couple of years in one of the US's finest journalism schools, so that tells you it's a personal interest of mine. (I eventually realized that I probably didn't have the patience and stamina to meet my own standards.) IMO the change dates to 1976 and the release of the film of Woodward and Bernstein's "All the President's Men". Journalists ceased to be reporters and became celebrities, and the new goal was not so much public interest as personal renown. The politicians and spin doctors just have to outlast us. After a full day of work, caring for family, etc., I have little time and energy (and less brain power) to do a lot of reading and critical analysis...much less write to congresscritters, etc. It's very frustrating!
trésjolie1 trésjolie1 9 years
You know, he is the tortured artist type. He always needs a hug.
mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
Well, as long as it's being taken care of...... (P.S. It looks like he wants a hug....)
trésjolie1 trésjolie1 9 years
MMM: It's a problem. We're seeing a counselor.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
I think getting just the facts is best too, but sometimes pundits can bring up a point I never thought of, so I like to hear what they have to say...
mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
"Just the facts, ma'am." - Ludicrous! Without media correspondents spinning the news, how will you what what to think is right!?
mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
Tres, I feel as if your boy is checking me out now. I thought you were going to talk to him!
insanitypepper insanitypepper 9 years
Just the facts, ma'am.
wackdoodle wackdoodle 9 years
None - I don't listen to or watch the spin from the media or from the candidates. I do objective research from impartial sources.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
As Bill Maher said, anymore all it takes is for someone to say something to make it "true". Isn't it amazing that something like 10% of Americans think Obama is a Muslim...even with all of this controversy about his Christian church? It boggles the mind how easily people are persuaded by spin.
trésjolie1 trésjolie1 9 years
I don't think it makes too much difference if you are informed, like most who stop by here on Citizensugar, but for the rest it easily sways they opinions and feelings; and votes. Which is why it is so frustrating. Because often times it is merely their(experienced) opinion, but presented as facts, and I think that is unfortunate. However, I think younger crowds are more used to being "manipulated" from the media, growing up with the internet and all, having a healthy scepticism to it and what it tells them to think. That doesn't really help those who stay uninformed though, who easily pick up whatever stance they think sounds the most likely to be true. I think many are firm believers in the notion that there is no smoke without fire; but I think that isn't necessarily so in today's blogosphere and 24hr news channels.
zeze zeze 9 years
Spin is VERY important, because if something is said enough times by enough people, even those who know the facts, know the art of spinning, and know the tricks will eventually start believing it. There are always many ways to look at any situation, so the facts become irrelevant because they will support which ever theory you want them to support and there is power in numbers, together these things make spin, national media, and the hunt for ratings and not actual news coverage the most influential force in society, and not just for the weak of mind and ignorant - for all of us! In our own debates (people here seem to know their stuff and have strong minds for the most part) we are always repeating what the networks are saying, this is because it is influential and because the news feeds off what we say and amplifies it beyond where it ought to be in a rational society while still making it familiar enough to be believable.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
Since the news media gets higher ratings based on conflict, I think it is EXTREMELY harmful to have too much spin. I feel that right now, you can't escape spin. Every program is an opinion based editorial, and the bare facts are hard to find. Even the people I tend to agree with are spinning it for me, and I wish there was a choice in the matter! With the Obama speech, they are all going to play selected clips of it, ignoring the nuances for better or worse. I feel like Americans are baby birds, and the news media has to chew information up and spit into our mouths...only for us to spit it back out on message boards. I really would like more bare bones fact based reporting. What good is supporting a candidate or issue, if you are in the dark to all the facts?
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Sometimes I wonder if the problem is more an intent to spin (manipulate) or simply a gradual surrendering by society of our intellect as a result of mass media. Either way it comes down to the old standard keep your eyes peeled and your ears open. It's easy to become complacent when intellect is delivered in such a fine tuned package, but we must not surrender our minds because it is the last thing we have that is truly ours.
liliblu liliblu 9 years
Good post lula.
lula29 lula29 9 years
I think spin is very damaging. I think it's time for Americans to think critically for themselves and not allow pundits or so called experts redefine the discourse. People should react authentically and then discuss, as we do here, amongst themselves their reaction. Being told how to think his IMO how we got the administration we have now.
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