Beyond Labels

A 360° Discussion of Foreign, National and Local Policy Issues

The Media: Are we well served by it?

This subject was discussed on September 16, 2013.

  • Is the line between “news” and “opinion” blurring and becoming increasingly problematic?
  • Does the availability of right- and left-leaning “news” outlets exacerbate the partisan divide in the country?
  • Given the constitutional protection of “freedom of the press,” is there anything we can really do about any issues?  (Other than not buying the newspaper, reading the blog or watching the TV news?)
  • What is the audience for today’s news media…does it address only a small and skewed (by age, education, economic well-being) portion of the population?
  • Is the general population sophisticated enough to critically evaluate what they read, hear or see on the “news?”


  • Scott,
    In view of rapidly developing news should we devote next week to intervention in Syria?

  • I certainly have no objection to that, if others agree. It might get Bob Sargent out of bed (recuperating?) and back to the Library on the 9th!
    Assuming we do, I guess I’d like to spend some time on how we feel about the President’s belated decision to request authorization from Congress. I personally believe that he should have done so at the beginning…long before the stream of threats, leaks about timing, the “limited” nature of the strikes, etc. It’ll be interesting to see whether the President asks Congress to return early or puts everything on hold for another week.

  • I agree with Rick that we should discuss Syria on 10/9.
    I feel that we should spend the first 30 minutes each week discussing a pressing topic (Syria) or following up a previously discussed topic. We then could discuss the planned topic. We also should be nimble enough to postpone the planned topic if the pressing topic (Syria) takes more time.

  • I like Art’s suggestion: 30 minutes for a pressing topic or second thoughts on a previous one. And I also agree that we be flexible: if people want to spend the whole two hours on Syria, we can postpone the discussion of media.

    • I think there’s lots of support for Art’s suggestion…we sort of do it already. And I’m fine with Syria (I’m going to changed the “advertised” topic for next week to reflect this). Two previously raised concerns to think about for next Monday: 1) some folks think we should avoid “chasing the press” each week but, instead, step back a bit to discuss what’s really important from a longer term perspective (I don’t think Syria is an issue in this respect) and 2) Rich Boulet has observed that there might be an issue if someone specifically attends the meeting to discuss “advertised” issue A, only to find that we decide to cover issue B on the fly. I’m happy to run that risk for now (given the folks who usually attend), but we shouldn’t lose sight of Rich’s concern.

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