"It's perhaps the biggest threat to the nation's mental wellbeing, yet it's freely available on every street – for pennies. The dealers claim it expands the mind and bolsters the intellect: users experience an initial rush of emotion (often euphoria or rage), followed by what they believe is a state of enhanced awareness. Tragically this "awareness" is a delusion. As they grow increasingly detached from reality, heavy users often exhibit impaired decision-making abilities, becoming paranoid, agitated and quick to anger. In extreme cases they've even been known to form mobs and attack people. Technically it's called "a newspaper", although it's better known by one of its many "street names", such as "The Currant Bun" or "The Mail" or "The Grauniad" (see me – Ed).
In its purest form, a newspaper consists of a collection of facts which, in controlled circumstances, can actively improve knowledge. Unfortunately, facts are expensive, so to save costs and drive up sales, unscrupulous dealers often "cut" the basic contents with cheaper material, such as wild opinion, bullshit, empty hysteria, reheated press releases, advertorial padding and photographs of Lady Gaga with her bum hanging out. The hapless user has little or no concept of the toxicity of the end product: they digest the contents in good faith, only to pay the price later when they find themselves raging incoherently in pubs, or – increasingly – on internet messageboards."
How very true. I would add that if newspapers are like drugs, then TV is hard drugs. The difference is that we can at least somewhat discern fact from fiction in the print media. This is because we have to engage our brains a bit to read text, and also because we have to form our own meaning from the text construction. These (positive) barriers between us and the message allow us to filter the information, but they don't exist in the case of TV. We simply absorb the message. It involves no real brain action, so we tend to just accept it as is. That would be bad enough, but there is a greater danger. TV news producers have come to identify that moving picture impacts much more powerfully on our senses than print, and they work it for all its worth. Slick editing has overtaken proper journalism to provide a sensation that we are getting real information, when in actual fact it is mostly BS. The way this works is to provoke an emotional response from us, rather than a thinking one. This is exactly the same psychology used in movies, where it is used to the viewer's advantage. With news, this should not be happening - it is manipulation. The TV news should have this subtitle: "this news SHOW is presented for you entertainment only. Viewer's are advised to look elsewhere for unbiased, well-researched news material."
You can read the entire Guardian article here.