Do Media Matter? Maybe, Not So Much….

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I get it.

We long for answers.

One step solutions.

But life is complicated, and we can’t solve our problems with shortcuts.

There’s no single pill to make you slim and no simple test to show you’re smart.

Lately I’ve read news stories about the magic pill and the silver bullet as solutions.

But pills and bullets don’t solve problems.

The question is: how do our problems arise?

May I offer my advice?

If you hear a problem stems from one single source—whether rational gun ownership or a woman’s right to control her body—take a breath.

Life is complicated and deserves your thoughtful attention: not your gut reaction.

This week NPR interviewed a fellow academic—someone I don’t know–who looked at American television programs on abortion and their impact.

No surprise to hear that mainstream entertainment (not internet or subscription TV) historically presents two sides of the issue: pro-life and pro-choice.

What caught my attention?

The researcher said such views impact public opinion on abortion.

Wow.

I long for concrete evidence to offer my students that media impact opinion.

I dug deeper.

I looked for the researcher’s findings that show how television impacts public opinion about abortion, but I found nothing—nothing in the communication journals and nothing in the journalism reviews that referenced the researcher’s work.

Today I lost a little faith in NPR.

The reporter took a shortcut and someone failed to fact-check the story.

I teach propaganda and disinformation and misinformation, and I ask students to check the credibility of their sources and to judge according to the source’s agenda.

NPR failed.

And I take a deep breath.

###

With acknowledgement and gratitude to the Native peoples on whose land I live, write and teach: the Multnomah, the Clackamas, and the denizens of all Indigenous nations

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#whatstrending

About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
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