Friday, March 20, 2009

Political Interest and the News Media

After the last election in Canada there was much complaining, often with an almost chastising tone, that there was such a poor voter turnout. 58.8% of eligible voters turned out in October 2008 for the general election. According to Elections Canada's website that is the lowest turn out ever for a general election and the second lowest turn out ever for any vote (the lowest ever turn out was for a referendum in 1898 - 44.9%).

The complaining and worrying over the apathy toward politics in general among the Canadian public is a fairly regular point of discussion on radio talk shows and television news shows. It mostly boils down to the commentators saying that the public need to be "re-engaged" or that there is just not the same sense of "community" anymore. Some of this is true to be sure. However, I have a different theory.

I am of the opinion that the loss of interest in politics is due to the lack of objectivity found in the media. Combine this with the post-modern way of looking at truth (i.e. truth is relative) and you have no source of trusted information. Everything we hear we today hear with jaded ears. We don't even expect objectivity anymore. We believe the CBC has a left of centre bias. We believe the National Post has a right of centre bias. We accept the bias. And in so doing we don't trust any of the news.

When you don't trust the information you are getting which you are to base your opinions and decisions on in political issues - you quickly lose interest. Instead of considering the issues themselves - you have to consider the source and the bias. So to get information you have to wade through with filters - and it gets tiresome. So - you give up. You lose interest. You stop caring.

This may not be the only reason why there seems to be growing apathy toward politics in Canada but I believe it is certainly a contributing factor.

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