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July 01, 2013


Curt Harding

Really interesting read, Greg. As a former news reporter and executive, I would take issue with you on much of it. You seem to want to shift responsibility in people's actions from the person to the media. Not sure you intended that, but that's how it reads. In addition, this notion that crime should not be reported until people are caught is rather ludicrous. The Boston bombers, for example. Lives were saved mainly because of the massive media coverage. We would, however, absolutely agree on the trashy content that makes it onto our newscasts. I've been part of that decision-making and believe me, it's not pretty. Upper management pushes stories that involve death, controversy and danger. Meanwhile outstanding stories are pushed aside as "Weekend fluff." Our newsrooms have also gotten younger. Producers, fresh out of college, are now making decisions that directly affect what viewers see. They are easily influenced and pushed by managers because they want to impress and move up the ladder. I appreciate your take on all of this, but you left out the real answer - the OFF button.


Fear is the primary human driver.
The defence budget proves that.
Red colour is a fear response and is used at breaking news bulletins.

Re: social proof: the weak book "nudge" (came after pyromarketing and is nowhere as good, but was fashionable among neo-liberals)talks about using it for "positive" (ie paternalistic) outcomes.
The book "nudge" sold well in liberal paternalistic societies (ie europe)
So when is Greg coming here to europe on a speaking tour!!?
Compare and contrast pyromarketing and nudge techniques.

Greg Stielstra

Curt, I believe responsibility lies with the person, but people's decisions are influenced by their environment. For example, suppose a person is more prone to sin in Vegas than church. Any sin and its consequences are the individual's responsibility. Still, if the people in a society wanted to reduce sin, they might encourage church attendance while discouraging trips to Vegas. In the same way, media could help to reduce violent crime in society by changing the way they report it.

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