Selective Attention

When the media clutters its content with too much of the same.

By: Joe Kelly


            If there’s one thing the media loves to cover, it’s Trump. Despite, or perhaps because of, the disdain that reporters and talk show hosts held him in during and after the election, every action of his seemed to dominate national headlines. Even today, whether it’s about his most recent Twitter blunder or his administration’s controversial law-making, you’re bound to see endless articles and think pieces and analyses emerge online and on-air. At times like these, I can’t help wondering about the news that isn’t covered when all resources are pointed to Washington D.C.

Privately owned media in the United States is a blessing and a curse; they inform us of the issues behind government doors. Though they find stories that people want to read, those stories aren’t always the only ones we need to hear. According to research by Susanna Dilliplane, Ph.D. director at the Aspen Institute, exposure to content that is in agreement with the reader stimulates political participation, while exposure to content that goes against the beliefs of the reader decreases the likelihood of participation. 

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If news outlets want to politically charge their audience and sell content, they’re compelled to give them what they want: partisan news that caters to their beliefs. Why focus on objective international headlines akin to the fatal airstrikes in Afghanistan or the Indonesian tsunami that caused over 1,000 fatalities, when the media can capitalize on a story that divides an audience? 

Trump can thank today’s media for sending him to the presidency, even if most of that publicity was bent on taking him down. But consumers need to improve their media literacy efforts and pay attention to stories that may be under smaller headlines. News outlets will only focus on what they think you’re likely to read.

Wake Mag