Thursday, November 03, 2005

Behind the New York Times pay wall, Paul Krugman answers a reader's question:

Sharon Wichmann, Bremen Germany: ... Do you really think that the public thinks? I devour your columns and rarely disagree, but the general public has a two-minute thought span and seems to be swayed rather dramatically by the least little bit of news. ...

Paul Krugman: I generally don't like blaming the people. Let's bear in mind that most people aren't and can't be careful news analysts: there are jobs to be done and children to be raised. Mostly they get their political information on the fly — from page 1 stories above the fold, or quick summaries on the news.

That's why the media have a special responsibility not to let people in power control the imagery. If mythology dominates the TV news, a page 19 story that, to a very careful reader, questions the spin is pretty much useless.

So, what would the public glean from today's headlines in the actual paper? Well, there's a story on Judge Alito's record which, if you read all the way through it, says that he tends to be particularly deferential to prosecutors and police, and very reluctant to overturn convictions because of improper jury instructions, and the like. (He's also more conservative generally). That, at least, is what you get if you read the article. But most people would just skim the headline --- and on the web site, as I write, the headline reads "Alito's Dissents Show Deference to Lower Courts". Say what?


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home