I will start off by saying that I like Vice as a news outlet. I am a regular viewer of their half hour HBO program (produced by Bill Maher) which takes you to all sorts of places and covers a vast array of topics that are otherwise untouched by the rest of the media. They at times are guilty of some of the same things that others of the progressive/alternative media are guilty of, but those instances are few and far between. Their work in other areas far outweighs any issues that I have ever had with the organization.
Now for some criticism.
One thing that is becoming more and more popular for all forms of news media these days, is including the voices of “the people” in stories seemingly whenever possible, usually by referencing social media. I can understand the want (0r need) to include the people in the stories in the game of staying relevant. Every news organization and journalist today are now in competition with facebook and twitter for news distribution. And on top of this, social media has conditioned most to expect more out of their news sources then just a one sided dialog. People have grown comfortable with having a platform, and as such, just sitting back and absorbing information is not always enough anymore.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I like the platforms available in this day and age. I utilize them in my day to day existence, which entails using social media for the purposes of education and keeping people in the know. The same principals are applied within this blog, with a dash of whatever opinion I hold on a given subject (in detail).
While I am not absolutely against utilizing the voices of the masses to enrich a given piece or segment, one should always remember the quality of the dialog or the information presented. There are many experts, academics or otherwise people that are educated and trained enough in a given area to be useful as sources for almost any story. But there are also many more people that have mere opinions on these said stories, which they may or may not acknowledge as mere opinions (most political ideologues think that they are on the correct side of the big picture, for example).
And to be perfectly blatant, most people do not put a whole lot of thought into their stances beyond what the popular talking points and narratives are. This is particularly true in the realm of social media, which actively encourages sheep like behavior on a massive scale. I can not explain a great many of the things that go “viral” without acknowledging that its just because people are following the lead of everyone else.
It seems that vice acknowledges this in the video above. It is a nice mix of people from both sides of the debate, from ideological hack to well educated. But I don’t get why what “the people” have to say really matters in the situation (GMO foods).
Were not discussing politics, or our democracy. Were talking about a subject that is firmly in the realm of science. This piece involves GMO foods, but other similar discussions could be both Climate Change and the Anti-Vaccination movement. All 3 of these areas have been well studied by the scientific community and have conclusive information available which points one way. But there are still many that for differing reasons, insist that the issue is to be viewed from the other direction. They often times have nothing to back this stance. But they want to be accepted on the same level as those with the facts.
This is why, when it comes to matters involving proven science, I do not really give a shit about what “the people” say. There is no real “debate” over climate change, vaccine safety or genetically modified organisms. There is only the scientists with the facts, and a bunch of idiots without critical thinking abilities parroting popular voices of the internet and pseudoscience.
While utilizing the voice of the people may be beneficial or fulfilling in some contexts, there is no need to in areas of certainty. In fact, the more of a platform we give these morons, the more momentum that their screwed up and false beliefs garner. Thereby making the “equal platform” situation actually harmful, instead of just idiotic.