Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Journalism

Fake News is a Symptom of a Larger Problem–We are Destroying Our Own Media

Many people now believe that fake news contributed to Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential election. I’ve seen this issue debated a number of times around the web, and whenever it’s discussed there tends to be a great deal of conceptual imprecision. Different people have widely divergent understandings of what constitutes “fake” news. This has led many people to misunderstand what fake news is, why it exists, and what its significance is.

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Why the Media Cannot Deal Effectively with Donald Trump

A lot of people are upset at the media for facilitating the rise of Donald Trump by giving him so much coverage and attention. This coverage legitimized him as a serious candidate and frequently gave him a free platform, allowing Trump to market himself to voters without having to buy many commercials. But we are wrong to point the finger at the media–the media is subject to certain market imperatives that made it impossible for the media to handle Trump in a way that would have been better, and this will continue to be the case going forward. Read the rest of this entry »

Why Lazy Pundits Keep Comparing Sanders and Trump

In recent weeks, I’ve observed a troubling trend among America’s pundit class–the tendency to make really lazy Bernie Sanders/Donald Trump comparisons. You see, Sanders and Trump are both political outsiders, they both tell it the way they think it is, they both have experienced significant growth in their poll numbers in recent months, and they’re both causing problems for their parties’ other candidates. Revelatory, right? Pundit centrists love to draw strained equivalencies between the left and right in American politics and they love to focus on elections as narrative struggles between good guy centrists and bad guy extremists, so it’s natural for them to see these two figures as analogues. In truth, Sanders and Trump could not be more different–not merely in terms of their ideologies and policies, but in their whole approach, in their very attitude toward the public.

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Crime Rates: Our Mass Delusion

As unusually highly attentive readers might be aware, I am now a grad student at the University of Chicago. By reputation, Chicago is often thought a comparatively dangerous, unsafe place, and this was the impression most are under upon arrival there. If, however, we actually look at crime statistics, we find that the extent to which people in this area fear crime and perceive it to be an endemic threat is unjustifiable. In this piece, I will establish that claim, and then consider how it has come to pass that the average citizen overestimates the amount of danger he is in so thoroughly and consistently.

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Petraeus and the Failure to take Politics Seriously

Since 9/11, we’ve all heard the refrain. The world changed, suddenly everything was dangerous where before it was placid, and anyone who did not take national security really, really seriously had, as George Bush put it “a September 10th attitude”. Recalling all of this, the resignation of David Petraeus over his extramarital affair reeks even more than it usually does when a political figure is pushed out not because of any professional failure or display of incompetence, not for any meritocratic purpose, but merely due to sex.

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