"Chicago O'Hare, Eastern Airlines, 111 dead."
That was the news from Paul Harvey on July 19, 1989. The master storyteller and radio host had a way with words that resonated among Americans --- including a younger Glenn Beck.
"He was way ahead of his time. Most powerful news story I ever heard, and one of the reasons why I wanted to get into radio: Orson Wells and Paul Harvey," Glenn said Monday on radio.
This followed a conversation about social media and its impact on the new way Americans consume news. Sharing a story from FiveThirtyEight, co-host Stu Burgiere recounted the author's recent three-month break from social media.
"They had a writer who had a book situation, so [she] had to go off social media for three months. And [she] wrote about, 'Hey, how did this affect my opinion of the news cycle?'" Stu explained.
Christie Aschwanden, the author, came to a realization:
It dawned on me that I’d mostly stopped visiting websites directly and instead had been following the recommendations in my feeds to wherever they might lead me. My reading was no longer deliberate but curated by external forces that may or may not have aligned with my interests. I’d ceded control of my most valuable currency: my attention.
That trend --- having news pushed to us by an outside algorithm rather than seeking out sources independently --- has dramatically changed the way we consume news.
"Unbelievable, that's the way most people do it," Glenn said.
"Totally, you just get led down these roads, and you're not necessarily even reading what's most interesting to you or what's most important to you," Stu agreed.
Regarding the Paul Harvey story, Glenn had this to say:
"I knew everything that I needed to know. That's really kind of what America wants right now. They just want that, plus they want a confirmation of their opinion. Tell me my opinion is right," he said.
Aschwanden found exactly that to be true:
What became acutely obvious when I stopped taking their recommendations was how tribal online discussions can be. So many posts in my feeds were people broadcasting their political or professional identities by expressing outrage or praise for a particular news event or article. It seems to me that these kinds of posts aren’t so much about instigating thoughtful discourse as they are about broadcasting your own tastes or positioning yourself on a team. By opting out, I wasn’t missing thoughtful discussions, I was skipping pep rallies for various factions.
"It's because we've lost the American tribe. We've broken into political party tribes because we don't have a common story that threads us together anymore," Glenn said.
Listen to this segment from The Glenn Beck Program: