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Question

How the Media Distort Reality

Read the following essay from Becoming a Critical

Thinker (p. 129).  Create a 3-5 page (title page and references page not included) paper in APA format to substantiate your viewpoint (pro or con as it relates to the essay).  Base your paper on the W.I.S.E approach (from Becoming a Critical Thinker, Chapter 2).  Look for errors in thinking and explore viewpoints that are different from those expressed in the essay.  Conduct research to support your viewpoint and include three references in your paper.


How the Media Distort Reality

TV and movie apologists are forever telling us that we have no business criticizing them because they are only holding a mirror up to reality.  Many people buy that explanation, but they shouldn't.

It would be more accurate to say the media hold a magnifying glass to carefully selected realities—namely, the most outrageous and sensational events of the day, such as the tragic deaths of John F. Kennedy Jr. and Princess Diana, or the trials of celebrities such as O.J. Simpson, Kobe Bryant, and Michael Jackson.

Consider how this happens.  The first platoon of media people report the latest sensational story as it unfolds, squeezing each new development for all the airtime or newsprint it will yield.  Meanwhile, agents and attorneys are negotiating the sale of movie and TV rights to the story.  The sleazier the story, the greater the payoff.  After the movie is produced, every situation comedy, detective show, and western drama builds an episode around the successful theme.

In this way a single despicable, disgusting act—real or imagined—can generate months of sensational media fare.

In short, the media exploit our social problems for ratings, feed us a steady diet of debasing material, celebrate irresponsible behavior, and then have the audacity to blame parents and teachers for the social problems that result.


INTRODUCING THE W.I.S.E. APPROACH

The W.I.S.E. approach to thinking incorporates all three kinds of thinking—

reflective, creative, and critical. It consists of four steps:

Wonder

This step entails reflecting on our experiences and observa-

tions and identifying challenges that are worth addressing. Unlike the

other steps, this one does not begin or end with particular challenges but

is ongoing.

Investigate

This step consists of gaining information about the chal-

lenges identified by wondering. It helps us gain the information and reach

the understanding needed to solve problems and resolve issues.

Speculate

This step consists of identifying possible solutions to problems

and possible resolutions of issues.

Evaluate

This step consists of testing the possible solutions to prob-

lems or the various arguments about issues and deciding which one(s) are

most worthy.

Let's look more closely at each of these steps and consider how to master

them.

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