Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Market Neutral Media (Wednesday LINKS)

I had a great time moderating yesterday's discussion of Civility in Politics.  I can't tell you how much fun it was for me to sit amongst educated, contemplative, and generally curious professionals talking about a complex subject, with nary a word about a candidate, political party, or the hurt feelings that carry along with the same.

One of the more interesting comments for me was right at the beginning from our featured guest, Sheila Kast of Maryland Morning.  She noted that our idea of an "unbiased media" may be a relatively new invention.  As recently as World War II, newspapers were brazen in their political affiliation, even so far as having their bent in the title.  It was the news wire services that ended up presenting the first glimpses at what we now characterize as media free of bias.  Why?  They wanted to increase their market-share.  If I'm selling my content to papers on the right and the left, I need to be sure that what I'm offering is either neutral or contains enough facts for either side to craft their derivative pieces with the slant expected by their readers.

That explanation seemed to frame our subsequent discussion about what we expect from our media.  What do we expect from those proffering "the truth"?  Is it naive to think such reporting exists?  Is it hypocritical to expect it without a great deal of introspection to our own motives in what we read/watch/listen to?

We obviously did not come up with answers yesterday, but this is a question without an answer, at least in terms of a ethical "what should X do?"  I think a fair expectation of media consumers is to "ponder" the news and issues our community/Country faces.  More question marks, less exclamation points.  What you'll find is that we are often offended when confronted with information, or news, that conflicts with our strongly held beliefs.  Rather than stand on that offense, it may be worthwhile to examine the fact.  We are entitled to minority views.  We are entitled to majority views.  What we are not entitled to is the freedom from confrontation; whether that be passive or aggressive.  How you address that confrontation is a foundation of your education and intelligence as a deliberative adult.

When we talk about media, what we're really discussing is the manner in which we address complex issues as a collective.  We are frustrated when our side is not properly argued, and vindicated when events play out like we expect/hope.  Sounds like sports, doesn't it?  What if instead, we just wanted to know as much as we could, and leave the answers for last?


Don't worry.  These fall temperatures are abnormally low.  Yesterday's 54 high was the lowest since 1885.  Unfortunately, its looking like we will be breaking some more records before the week is through.

Recent polls have shown Mitt Romney taking a 2 point lead Nationwide and closing the gap in many of the critical swing states.  Nevertheless, today's polling still shows an Obama lead in Ohio.  Most are calling Thursday the most important Vice Presidential Debate in US History.  To them I say "Do you even listen to yourself when you speak?"

Political advertising for both sides of the Question 7 referendum has eclipsed the previous spending record from the 2006 Gubernatorial race.  Opponents of expanded gambling have spent $18 million while proponents have spent $17.7 million.

Steroid injections have been linked to a recent outbreak of meningitis effecting 8 Marylanders.  105 cases have been reported across the Country.

Luke Lavoie looks at CA's plan to expand Columbia's pathways by approximately 51 miles.  As I've noted before, the most critical aspect of the new Connectivity Master Plan is transforming our pathways into a useful transit system, with directional markers, named paths, and identifiable landmarks.

Howard County Budget Director Ray Wacks says that residential and corporate property tax revenues are exceeding projections by approximately $4 million total.  Meanwhile, income taxes are approximately $4 million less than projected.  Notably, Mr. Wacks states that homeowners must apply for the homestead tax credit by December 2012 or see their property taxes go up and that 64,000 households that would otherwise have been eligible have not yet applied.  Council Member Courtney Watson says this lapse is an "emergency", possibly implicating the use of the Emergency Notification System.  "Dear Homeowner, Go get that cheddar.  Sincerely, Howard County."

Featured Blog Post of the Day: Sarah promotes some of the materials the League of Women Voters have prepared to educate voters about the litany of ballot questions at issue in this year's election.

That's all for today.  Have a great Wednesday doing what you love.  Let's Go O's!