In the Eye of the Beholder

In the interrupted version of Daisey’s Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, the monologue’s narrators asks, “Does truth come in ratios?  Are shades of grey always the status quo?”  When it comes to mainstream media today, we have been conditioned to accept everything we see and heard with a grain of salt.  Nobody questions the grey areas, the misconstrued facts, the information not reported, and the sometimes completely false information that is presented in major news sources today.

One of the questions raised for this week asked: Is journalism so much better than art at getting to truth?

It occurs to me that journalism has lost it’s touch.  Journalism (as we associate it with major media sources) simply shares information.  Journalists have stopped being ‘story-tellers’ and have become ‘tellers of sometimes-true facts’.  Mike Daisey came along and made us care.  He invoked a call to response in many of us.  Despite the lies he told to exaggerate the truth, his story telling worked better than if the same information was presented in a standard news format.

Before I go any further, I want to clarify what truth means in this sense.  Truth is the factual information that a news broadcast is trying to communicate.  Truth is also the sense that the information is important, and relevant.  It is not exaggerated, but truth can be implied.  Mike Daisey failed because he distorted the truth.

Michael Skoler believes that “Trust is key. Many younger people don’t look for news anymore because it comes to them. They simply assume their network of friends—those they trust—will tell them when something interesting or important happens.”

Personally, I was shocked when I heard about the (exaggerated) working conditions that Apple condones. Our capitalistic consumer society teaches us to not ask questions about the product’s lifecycle before or after it interacts with a consumer.  I don’t know where half the thing I own were made.  And I don’t know what happens to my things after I throw them away.  It’s very true that I have an expectation- as a user of social media- that important information will find it’s way to me. I don’t ask questions.

Do I blame the style of journalism as we know it today for this?  Maybe.  It also could just be that I’m lazy and don’t care enough to ask the hard questions. But I do know that the mode of communication that Mike Daisey employed invoked an emotional response from me in a way that a news story would.  Desensitized is the word that comes to mind.  We have become desensitized to journalism, so in this way, art is a better teller of truth than media.

2 thoughts on “In the Eye of the Beholder”

  1. How are we “taught” not to question? Is that the outcome of conscious choices by someone or some-thing (an organization?)?

    I wonder if this is another example of institutional logics about how we find and absorb information.


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