Opinion | Disinformation Is Not the Real Problem With Democracy

“That often happens in democratic countries,” he continued,

what many men who have the desire or need to make friends can’t do, because they are all very small and lost in the crowd, can’t see each other and don’t know where to find each other. A newspaper appeared showing that their views or ideas were presented to each of them simultaneously but separately. All immediately turned towards that light, and the wandering souls who had long sought each other in the darkness finally met and united.

A vibrant press is one of the forces that help shape individuals into members of a community with responsibilities and obligations to that community. It brings them into political life and unites them with other like-minded people.

That is one of the reasons that throughout American history, whenever there was a reform movement, there were newspapers and journalists associated with that reform movement, whether peace or abolitionist movement or labor movement.

One of the most striking aspects of the modern information environment, as many have observed, is the near-total collapse of local and even regional news agencies. Where once every town or city, even small ones, had a newspaper — with reporters who helped the community understand themselves through their work — now most of the country exist in the news desert, where there is little information about anything, from the local. government for local events.

I think this decline has played an important role in undermining America’s democratic institutions, as well as public confidence in democracy. It’s not just the collapse of local news that has made it harder to pin any number of public servants to blame — contributing to general skepticism about the government’s ability to do illegal work. anything constructive — that Americans increasingly lack the information they need to engage in politics. process in their community.

“As Americans move away from local news, turnout in state and local elections has dropped.” Brookings’ notes“and communities that lost reporters saw fewer candidates running for local office.”

Americans have turned to national news and national news agencies to bridge the gap, but these larger organizations cannot replace what has been lost. Being nearby makes it easier for me to react when a local official is accused of wrongdoing. The same is not true of a member of Congress, especially if they are not mine. The information we receive from national media is valuable, but it can also leave us feeling hopeless and powerless. And it may contribute to “political preference,” a tendency to see politics not as a cause for action and an essential part of citizenship, but as a game in which the goal The only goal – the only goal – is to somehow embarrass and humiliate our enemies.

There is always an element of entertainment in politics – that is part of life in a mass democracy – but turning all politics into entertainment may involve the absence of cognitively linked institutions. our politics with something more local, something more. more specifically national political conflicts.


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