The 21st century has so far witnessed an exponential growth in both the volume and the complexity of communication. The growth of social media and the concomitant decline in the influence of mainstream media has given rise to concerns about information “echo chambers”, rigidly entrenched partisanship, and disagreement on and even dismissal of fundamental facts. Given these concerns, and at a loss to understand, there is no better time to revisit Walter Lippmann’s Public Opinion. Published in 1922, and since considered both “the founding book of modern journalism” and “the founding book in American media studies”, it is an acute and astute analysis of the irrational and self-serving perceptions that drive individual behavior and impede social progress. The core truth is that reality is too big, too fast, and too complex to understand and interpret accurately, so we each develop a shorthand of mental images that he terms stereotypes to create a “pseudo-environment” to understand and eventually act in the real world.  Sadly, most people devote little time to acquiring information about public affairs and even so have little intellectual engagement generally. Add to this the danger that those who are in the know will create a fictitious pseudo-environment favorable to their private ends.  Lippmann suggests we accept the fact that the power of propaganda and the expertise needed to understand public affairs renders traditional ideas of democracy untenable. To combat that, he challenged journalism to engage in the “manufacture of consent”, to parse issues and events as accurately and objectively as possible to help society cope and make more effective political decisions. The message resonates today as much as ever, perhaps even more so.

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Item Info
EAN 0701236969184
Media MP3 CD
Package DVD Case
Author Walter Lippmann (1889 - 1974)
Recording
Read by progressingamerica
Length 10 hours and 39 minutes
Type Solo reading

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Public Opinion

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