America is currently as divided as it has ever been at any point since the Civil War. A big part of that is our media landscape, which operates under intense pressure from the profit motive and is thus hyper aware of how conflict moves the needle.
It's across all facets of news, including sports, and perhaps Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul said it best: "every time you see something in our league, on broadcast, what does it say? Oklahoma City vs. Portland. It always says 'vs.' So they almost always trying to put us against each other, never trying to unite and do things together."
Paul said these words at an NBA All-Star weekend event launching his next business venture, Players TV: Athletes on Demand. It's a weekend of very well dressed tall men with new basketball shoes who are "about bringing everyone together," to use the words that Paul described his network in. With media always under high pressure to generate ratings, clicks, interactions, product sales etc, what follows online is only natural. You get a lot of eye-catching and attention retaining content like quizzes, top 10 lists, slide shows and sensationalist headlines. When there is no fear or controversy, the media will manufacture and supply it for the reader.
When there is no outrage or backlash against anything, you still have a handful of social media users out there ready willing and able to get angry over nothing. The media, sadly, amplifies this tiny minority of people and presents them in a way that gives them much more credibility than they deserve. Unfortunately that is the world we live in, where media consumers want information, but don't want to pay for it. News consumers are also much more drawn to the tragic and scary news items than they are the uplifting, and that's rather unfortunate as well.
"Now social media that has changed the game," Davis said at the launch event held at Tavern Club on Michigan Avenue during NBA All-Star weekend.
"Social media is the new thing, but it will be around for the next 3-400 years, cuz everyone loves it, it's on demand, you can communicate with anyone...it's access."
In today's media and social media landscape, consumers are usually going to outlets for confirmation and verification of their beliefs, not to acquire new information. That's why our country is so divided right now- we can't agree on basic facts anymore. Hopefully, there will be more outlets like Players TV, who seek to provide information directly from the source, without an intermediary and the spin that sometimes comes with it.
That would definitely go a long way towards, as Barack Obama puts it, "making the truth get eyeballs."
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now and Minute Media. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and ChicagoNow.
He's been a featured guest in dozens of media outlets including The History Channel. His work has been cited in hundreds of publications including the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.