28 April 2022

Tim Dunlop: ”Our existence is mediated more than we like to admit, to an extent we generally don’t notice. To help us control the information that saturates our every waking moment, we rely on mental shortcuts, heuristics, and everyone from advertisers to politicians lean into these shortcuts… In politics, this is why easily demonstrable falsehoods persist: that the Coalition are better economic managers; that working class means men in factories and high-vis vests; that deficits are always bad… It is easier to regurgitate received wisdom than to pick it apart. It is more agreeable to maintain our prejudices than see past them. … When we talk about the power of the media, then, this is how we should be thinking about it: not that a single article or newsclip is going to sway people one way or another, but that the media helps create an overall environment that boxes us into certain ways of thinking. The box is never completely airtight, and other institutions build their own boxes, but the media — broadly understood — helps maintain strict perimeters around our thinking about almost everything. That is the nature of its power… and so it will always remain a key progressive goal to hold the media to account and provide alternative outlets. Put it another way: we happily talk about the importance of ‘soft power’ in the projection of our interests in foreign policy, but we are just as susceptible to it at home, and the media remain the primary tool for the dissemination of that power.”

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