5. Data mining and algorithms give us highly customized content … which is why a lot of us believe that we are quite knowledgeable about certain topics, even though we are almost exclusively exposed to material that reinforces narrow-minded bias. Our myopic viewpoints then set us up perfectly to engage in destructive communication.
4. 24-hour news cycle – there simply are not enough amazing stories happening every day, so media outlets that produce a lot of content daily are under great pressure to find shocking material to keep you coming back to support their advertisers. That pressure is inversely correlated with journalistic integrity.
3. Quoting experts – the wonders of the Internet bring journalists the opportunity to within a couple of Google searches find an expert who will lend his/her expertise to “prove” any theory we might come up with.
2. Cherry picking of data – media companies (other than BIG Media) rarely work with qualified data scientists, and even when they do, data is still almost never presented in a way that fosters education over sensationalism. The standard method of operation is to pull one or two morsels of data from a dataset and try to shock the heck out of people.
1. Context/schmontext – the large media companies count on our society’s unhealthy fixation on scandal (I will leave the chicken/egg discussion for another day), and feed us non-stop drama. The last thing they want is for us to be educated enough to calm down and focus on silly activities such as going for hikes, and spending time with friends and family … when we should be glued to our phones, laptops, and TVs.