I think "dumb down the entire world" is indefensible as you can really provide evidence for or against such a sweeping claim. However, what I'd agree with is that it dumbs down our day-to-day discourse. There isn't a political topic on the planet that isn't insanely nuanced and/or complicated. Long-form journalism is pretty much the only online medium through which I've ever felt like I truly learned something about a topic. It's why I limit my (political) media consumption to sites devoted to such an approach. But that also doesn't get clicks, or allow everyone into the conversation so easily. So you see the divide.
There isn't a good solution. Clickbaiters and social media rabble rousers are gonna do their thing. It's a personal decision to avoid it for more thorough discussion. And teaching that has to be grassroots (i.e. education). Bringing the educational and economic levels of the bottom percentages of society up to a stable level is probably the only way to create systemic change that doesn't gravitate toward things like 140-character political hot-takes and the cult of personality it seems to engender.
I think the article - and the quotes it uses - kind of get at the same point. So yeah, it's nothing new, but is an alarming trend. I saw some compelling research about how we also insulate ourselves online in terms of our worldviews, interacting with and visiting only those sites that reinforce what we already think. In that sense, Williams's comment that access to information doesn't necessarily make us smarter is entirely true. In a large majority of instances, it only reinforces what we already know; or, more problematically, what we think we know.
FiveThirtyEight is my favorite. They do have some liberal leanings, and balance the long-form stuff with more pandering punditry, so I can't say it's a truly neutral site. But they do two things that I like: one, they lean heavily on data, and scrutinize the data they use. And two, they're willing to admit when they're wrong. So like, they were wrong about the election (like every other pollster and predictor). But they admitted and analyzed their incorrect assumptions afterward and were closer than pretty much anyone bc they didn't simply follow the "it's Clinton's to lose" zeitgeist and they properly hedged by speaking in probabilistic terms. Those who followed the site were thus surprised but not entirely shocked at Trump winning, as they understood that his chances were roughly the same as, say, a 5-point underdog in a football game. Imo, there's no better polling aggregator out there, nor a site better qualified to interpret election results.
It helps that they also cover cultural and sports topics. Good pallet cleansers between political articles, which can be a downer if that's ALL you're reading.
I also enjoy LongReads, though that trends cultural more than political (though both can be found).
Another is Priceonomics, another data-centric site that trends toward economic topics, as the name would suggest. Just interesting stuff. Mostly, I enjoy writing that - if it's going to take a stand on some topic instead of being, say, a human interest or artistic piece - focuses on what we can actually know, and interpreting that information reliably. Long-form isn't the only way that can be done, but it's one of the better ways imo.
...it's probably no surprise that I like my videos the same way. So like, I didn't mind John Stewart, but didn't love him either. But John Oliver is amazing to me, because he'll take a whole half hour to dig deep into a topic so that we truly understand it, rather than the 3-4 minutes nearly any other show will give a topic (or 3-4 minutes of analysis followed by 20-30 minutes of opinions about it from people with an agenda). Oliver has an agenda too, sure, but he's putting in the legwork that others won't and highlighting topics that truly matter.
Haven't read that one, and it's late so I can't read it now. Your response is a version of my point, though. Pointing and laughing isn't meaningful analysis or discussion. I take it you disagree with something in the article's content? That isn't the point. There have been articles I disagree with on those sites too. The point is, it's an in-depth look at a topic, in that case (it seems) through the eyes of a mother who's experienced racism and violence toward her family. Right or wrong in whatever conclusions it draws, it's a launching point for understanding a particular worldview that goes beyond 140 characters.
One of the more interesting long-form pieces I read during the election was from a journalist who conducted in-depth interviews with Trump supporters in numerous states. It revealed real humans with fears and hopes, not just racist caricatures, and drew some insightful conclusions. I wish I could remember what site it was on. But it accomplished the same goal of illuminating a viewpoint, but from a different perspective.
I have a good friend that had to leave social media after the election, not because she couldn't handle whatever news was coming out, but because of the threats directed at her and her family due to her sexual orientation. It was open season for assholes, and caused her to fear for her personal safety, as well as the safety of her children. She's since moved for similar reasons; multiple lives upturned entirely because of prejudice. These stories don't just exist as fodder for online pundits. They're real.
Yes, that article has an opinion on Trump, and it's just one opinion. But it's based in personal experience, and represents the way many feel about the current climate...again based on personal experience. That you can dismiss it so quickly shows a callous disregard for understanding differing viewpoints.
I also don't want to sit here and defend a single article, especially one I haven't read in full, because it misses my earlier point. If you're really ready to dismiss an entire website based on a single article, the other two are more data-centric and less likely to rankle your sensibilities with overtly opinionated articles.
Please try to address my actual point(s). We're having two different conversations here.
Thesis: "I like longform journalism because it gives you a more in-depth look into topics than you get on twitter and in many other modern forms of clickbait-style journalism."
Response: "Defend this specific article that I don't like."
You might not like a specific article, or the leanings of an entire site. Then you can find a new site if you'd like, but I'd encourage you not to. We learn by encountering ideas that are outside our existing beliefs, not be reinforcing them. On that subject, I found the article about Trump supporter interviews I mentioned earlier: http://www.businessinsider.com/sam-...pporters-2017-2
...I would have loved to see even more from those interviews, but I also like that he didn't try to color the responses with his own interpretation. The quotes exist in something of a "spin" vacuum, but are probably better off for it.
The point is that the John Oliver's and FiveThirtyEight's and Longform's of the world are trying to be the anti-Twitter. It's still a conversation; often a contentious one, with viewpoints you might disagree with. But it's a better conversation to be having, because it respects us enough to take the time to tell whole stories, not fragments.
Do you disagree with that? If so, why? What forms of journalism would you prefer to the sites I linked? What merits do they have that you think set them apart?
I can't vouch for the book, and have only perused the interview, but it seems to be in the same vein of genuinely trying to understand opposing viewpoints in a way that isn't condescending. I bet it would be an interesting read, particularly for those on the left.
Oh, Adam Ruins Everything. Another good example. His Youtube clips can be - by necessity - shorter than is needed. But the show will spend entire episodes on a single topic and are admirably transparent in their sources, research and even mistakes when they're made.
But like, if you find comments about him on Twitter, they're probably just about how grating his persona is or how weird his hair is.
I used to like Twitter because it allowed me to curate what I saw. Interesting news sites, a few down-to-earth celebs, maybe a Dog pic aggregator or two. I knew it was sh*t for political discussion, so that's not where I went for political discourse. But it's become too caustic to have such a haven anymore, in my experience. More and more I think OP's article is really pretty spot-on.
Fair enough, and cool. By their nature, cultural pieces will often be anecdotal. Human interest stories, even more so. The particular article that inspired my anecdote there straddled that genre line. But that alone isn't always reason enough to dismiss it. The Trump supporter interviews I mentioned are also anecdotal. Hell, even the book on that same subject is. But they can be fascinating, and, yes, representative of larger truths.
And in my friend's case, I'm in the Midwest, but in a large, "blue" city. If that's what can happen here, I shudder at the larger implications, and sometimes you do have to damn the (lack of) data when you can see it happening with your own eyes.
I'm also a writer, so I enjoy good, long reads, where they say *** you to the word count and let people tell their stories well. So while this particular conversation is political in nature, my time spent on Longreads usually isn't politically tinted. It was just tangentially relevant to my "long form" point. Frankly, I get probably 75% of my political news from FiveThirtyEight, and another 10-15% from John Oliver. It's my "bubble," granted, and occasionally risks insulating me. But with the other 10-15% I'd like to think I explore a bit to try to find intelligent discourse that presents differing opinions.
You make some excellent points here, and I wonder about the impact Trump had on this increase in hate. Don't get me wrong he has said some messed up stuff, but IMO they played him up almost as the second coming of Hitler. People keep calling him a white supremacist and it is silly. But I wonder if people saw the rhetoric, believed Trump was as hardcore as they are, and took it to mean it was okay to lash out and be more hateful. Because he never said to discriminate against anyone. Even stuff like what he said about illegals gets turned into "he said all mexicans are rapists".
Interesting, have you written any books?
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