The broadcast itself is unpacking Monday night's debut of the Democratic National Convention. Commentators are aghast that ISIS, given its mounting threat, didn't get more mentions throughout the evening. Fox apparently wants to make up for this, and events have obliged. Newscasters alternate DNC-related head shaking with updates from France about two ISIS-backed terrorists having murdered an octogenarian priest during a hostage stand-off this morning. Donald Trump's "evolving" immigration policies also receive coverage. What struck me, though, was the array of commercials (you know, the bits I'd typically surf away from):
- The latest step-in bathtub technology
- Back and neck surgery options at the Laser Spine Institute
- Angie's List touting the quality of its surrogate dog walkers
- An anti-Clinton campaign ad
- A recommended facility for lung-cancer treatment
- An invitation to check out Liberty Mutual Insurance
- Lear Capital Investment offering to help you weather the latest inevitable economic bubble
- Trivago on how its website can help you be the savviest hotel shopper
- ADT encouraging you to beef up your home security.
That's a lot to be worried about, and I couldn't help but think of the gentleman across from me, probably the target audience on this weekday mid-morning. Filter bubbles aren't just for the Internet, and I realize they're not just for Fox News either. (Maybe I'll have to come back early another morning to wrest control of the remote so I can compare MSNBC's fare...)
The experience reminded me of a comment that Jason Ohler made during ISTE 2016, about the pervasive and potentially insidious influence of companies using big data. "Our output is their input," Ohler said. He went on, "Their outputs become our choices." So, in service of careful, thoughtful media consumption, keep your eyes, ears, brains, and options open.