To celebrate “National News Engagement Day”, I donated to what has steadily become my favorite news source in the past six months: the national and independent daily news program Democracy Now!. After hearing about DN! from a friend, I quickly fell in love with Amy Goodman’s raspy voiced reporting and the generous coverage given to topics I had never seen addressed in the mainstream media.
I began to really get into DN! after they devoted an entire broadcast to an interview with George Takei. Soon I wasn’t just watching the hour-long segment. I even went so far as to pick up books mentioned in my favorite interviews, or research topics that interested me within DN!’s online archives. I felt empowered and informed. There was only one problem. I liked DN! so much, I didn’t watch anything else.
As Shoemaker and Reese point out, the cultural value of individualism in our country has a pervasive effect on not only how we consume media, but also how we perceive the effects of such media on society, as well as the resulting study of those effects.
How then has the value of individualism translated into the consumption of news? If I self-select DN! and patronize only that program, is that the result of larger cultural norms favoring independent thought? And if so, how can we, as a culture, reconcile our need to be independent from the likely negative consequences of a “mirror-me” news consumption habit like my own?