Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Profile of NPR's Juan Williams

Juan Williams, senior correspondent for NPR, is one of my favorite reporters. He digs in. He rarely lets his subjects get away with say-nothing answers, so his interviews are substantial and rich.

Bulldog Reporter features a profile today with an in-depth interview. It's all a good read, but here's one of the more interesting snippets:

Is there a danger or downside to that "affirming" aspect of new media?

Yeah, I call it narrowcasting as opposed to broadcasting. In narrowcasting, you have a danger where people are no longer hearing stories about others in American life. In journalism, there is the old maxim that we must "Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." Now, the "comfortable" in any narrow interest group hear only what they want to—they associate and are exposed only to the beliefs or perspectives they already hold.

So the downside is not using Web 2.0 as a way to expand your consciousness to other issues. The whole notion of opening yourself becomes more difficult when the media is seeking comfort food for the mind and delivering only your "favorites." I think some in the media are falling victim to that. They're not trying to stretch their audience's minds. Instead, they're simply reassuring their audience's way of thinking.

You see this everywhere the media is becoming more niche. Just look at cable. You get "conservative" FoxNews and "liberal" CNN. The result, I think, is that broadcast networks have abandoned true news.

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