Evans Urges People to be Informed Citizens
Feb 21, 2012
Last night, Sean Evans, associate professor and department chair, spoke at the Faith, Media, and Politics Town and Gown that Union University is hosting for the community. The focus of Dr. Evans talk was how people can become informed in our information saturated culture.
He began by talking about how an active, informed citizenry is essential to our democratic government. Next, he talked about how the attempts to overcome the apathy of citizens by trying to make information entertaining so citizens have the information they need to make well-informed decisions. The problem is that the media, and the campaigns themselves, focus more on the entertaining and superficial and neglect their primary goal of informing. These changes have been faciltiated by a changing media culture of 24 hour news, the internet, blogs, the decline of journalistic standards, and the changing nature of who is a journalist. The expansion of news sources leads to less informed citizens as people read what they want (whether sports or news), fewer people are seeking information, and the result is a polarized, informed section of society and an apathetic majority. The change in the media is especially troubling as on-line news is killing local news which means that there are fewer people watching local level politicians who have the greatest impact on our lives.
The solution is to read credible, accurate, reliable, and supported sources. The media sources that are most likely to meet these criteria are the mainstream media. However, Dr. Evans suggested that people read widely and critically assess what they hear. In general, he says that people should avoid the opinion outlets like talk radio, blogs, and talk tv and focus more on news. To help busy people to become informed with little effort, Dr. Evans suggested that people listen to one channel in the morning, listen to some news on the way to work, spend some time on-line during the day reading things from multiple news outlets, and maybe watch teh evening news from a different channel and perspective than your morning news. If you do this, you are more likely to get a well-balanced picture to help you make informed decisions.