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Commentary

Auchter's Art: News media vs. social media

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John Auchter
/
Michigan Radio

In the olden days (you know, only a couple of decades ago), editorial cartoonists could draw a guy in a frumpled suit and trench coat wearing a fedora with a card reading "PRESS" sticking out of the band to represent the news media. Maybe holding a pencil and notepad. Or a camera with an absurdly large flash. And it would be universally recognized as a journalist. Well, a newspaper reporter, but those were pretty much the same thing.

Nowadays, none of that is nearly as clear cut. So for the cartoon, I drew a person dressed in general work attire and labeled her "News Media." This leaves an uncomfortable amount of room for interpretation. What I intended by "news media" is straight-up journalism, reporting, the sharing of information as observed by a trained professional. What I didn't intend was cable news, talking heads, carnival barkers, and the like. Unfortunately, those are often conflated, which is one of the reasons why the media in general is held in such low regard.

Conversely, my demonic "Social Media" guy is probably too specific. I mean, social media also includes pithy memes and cat videos, and I think those are lovely. But it has proven itself to be by far the best spreader of disinformation that the world has ever seen, and that's the part that isn't so lovely.

John Auchter is a freelance political cartoonist. His views are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management, or its license holder, the University of Michigan.

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