|Frank Wright, Ph.D.
President & CEO
During a recent commencement address, President Obama seemed to take a potshot at the tools of the information age – at least that’s how most news headlines characterized it. Sounding a bit like a latter-day Luddite, the President reportedly said:
"You're coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don't always rank all that high on the truth meter. With iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations--none of which I know how to work--information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation.”
Many news outlets tittered a bit at this last remark, since the President is a noted “crackberry” addict. But taken as a whole, the President’s remarks seemed to suggest that his real concern was the information itself, not the devices of transmission and access.
When he spoke of “arguments, some of which don’t always rank all that high on the truth meter,” the President was speaking to the reliability of the information, not the method of delivery.
This is surely not an unreasonable comment, as accuracy in media is not a new issue. But something tells me that the President has less concern over the information sources that support his policies than he does with the blogs and other media outlets that don’t. It wasn’t too long ago that his White House engineered an effort to discredit Fox News as an illegitimate news source, largely because it aired viewpoints at variance with the President’s own.
Personally, I think the President’s concern is misplaced. There have been issues of accuracy and reliability in the so-called “mainstream media” as well as in what we loosely call “new media” today. But the remarkable thing is that the robust flow of the information age tends to correct the errors over time.
Just ask Dan Rather.