The Media's Role in Generating Polarization

A while back, I was asked to write a short essay answering the question of whether the National Parks should be privatized.  Here is my full answer.

Let me show you the first paragraph and a half of my answer, because I want to use it to make a point:

Should National Park’s be privatized, in the sense that they are turned entirely over to private owners?  No.  Public lands are in public hands for a reason — the public wants the government, not, say, Ritz-Carlton, to decide the use and character and access to the land.  No one wants a McDonald’s in front of Old Faithful, a common fear I hear time and again when privatization is mentioned.

However, once the agency determines the character of and facilities on the land, should their operation (as opposed to their ownership) be privatized?  Sure.   The NPS faces hundreds of millions of dollars in capital needs and deferred maintenance.  It is crazy to use its limited budget to have Federal civil service employees cleaning bathrooms and manning the gatehouse, when private companies have proven they can do a quality job so much less expensively....

It goes on from there, but I think that is a fairly nuanced and balanced answer, particularly given that I am probably the most vocal advocate in the country for public-private partnerships in public recreation.

But that nuance is not really interesting to the media.  They like point-counterpoint polarization.  So a web site called Blue Ridge Outdoors reprints me answer, but they edit it:

YES

No one wants a McDonald’s in front of Old Faithful, a fear I hear time and again when privatization is mentioned. However, once the government determines how to manage a particular park, should its operation be privatized? Sure. The National Park Service faces hundreds of millions of dollars in capital needs and deferred maintenance. It is crazy to use that limited budget for federal employees to clean bathrooms and man the gatehouse, when private companies have proven they can do a quality job much less expensively.

So my answer, which is pretty much "no" gets edited to a "YES" and the entire first paragraph of nuance is deleted.    And we wonder why the world seems polarized?

  • STW

    When my youngest received her degree in public relations it was awarded by the school of journalism. At the time I thought it was pretty telling. It's even more so now. (She never flacked for anyone and has been teaching moderate to severe special ed for 10 years.)

  • http://www.paganvigil.com NeoWayland

    pardon, that was meant for another site.

  • Peabody

    Unfortunately it seems many don't care or want to deal with nuance. Why spend time learning about a situation when you get a flawed 30 second sound bite and then fight that position to the death?

  • marque2

    There is a cafeteria, and a gift store within 100' of old faithful. Just because it doesn't say McDonalds and Barne's and Nobel, how is that any different. And I am sure the park service contracts out the cafeteria management.

    I know this deviates a bit from what you were trying to convey, but seriously, that is what we have, businesses next to major government attractions, you just don't know the private entity running the things. Mt Rushmore was the same, but the Caf was more like 250 feet away.

  • marque2

    That is actually interesting, because that is one of those degrees you can get from several departments. You can get it from the communications department (journalism) or from the business department as a subset of a marketing degree.

  • CC

    Every time there is a black man shot, it is assumed that he was unarmed (of course the shooting of unarmed any race is insane, especially like the recent case where the man was laying on the ground with his hands up, trying to take care of an autisitic person) and it makes headlines. Very little attention to unarmed white persons shot.
    The media is happy to portray a leftist rally of any sort (green, Occupy, BLM, random crazy) as huge by their camera angle and show it repeatedly. They repeat claims about "evil" corporations or wall street without any counter or fact checking.
    The media like controversy and have a completely non-hidden agenda on the far left. They vote 95% Dem.
    The editing of a person's words or text to make them out to say something different or to make them look foolish is totally against journalistic standards. Remember the Katie Couric NRA video.

  • MDBurk

    As far as what the "...public wants..." is concerned, since when do we subject property rights (specifically) and individual freedom (in general) to majority/mob rule? Yes, I know that in fact, such has been going on for a very long time but, is that the solution or is that the problem?- that we continue to vote market systems over to political systems and in doing so, allow an ever increasing portion of our lives to be determined by government? If no one wants a McDonalds in front of Old Faithful, what makes anyone think that will happen, especially given what has been (correctly) noted on this website about the private sector's quest for profits? I have read that the workers at McDonald's are required to account for EVERY hamburger wasted. If that's true, you don't think McDonald's wouldn't be concerned about public outcry (much less the boycotting of their restaurant if actually built in front of Old Faithful) when even plans/designs for such a project became public knowledge?