The media is now so fractured and curated that plenty of people now expect to agree with everything they read, to experience the news and current affairs in an echo chamber where their own views are repeated back to them, thus confirming their own biases.
Twitter is in meltdown today about an article in New Matilda that criticises prominent feminist Clementine Ford, and suggests that the feminist message of equality, when delivered in an aggressive way, is not being heard by those who need to hear it.
Many among the Twitterati disagree and are expressing their displeasure with the article on the social media site. But it’s what they are doing next that gets our goat: they are demanding New Matilda pull the piece and apologise. They are offended by the sentiment, and therefore the website should never have published it.
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This represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of media — and especially of the role of independent media.
It is the sign of a mature mind to accept that reasonable, intelligent people think differently about things than you do, and that their conclusions, while different from yours, do not come from a place of idiocy or malice. If our opinions are never challenged by contrary positions, how do we know that our views are really ours, and not just what we have read a thousand times?
We think thoughtful news consumers should be mature enough to be able to handle views they themselves do not hold — and even, gasp!, opinions that offend them. And we think it’s the role of independent media to challenge readers to do this.
That’s what we love about Crikey readers: for the most part, you don’t shy away from strong debate, and you don’t subscribe to Crikey only to read worldviews that exactly line up with your own.
So here’s to offence, keeping an open mind and refusing to follow the crowd.