The Challenge for Consumers

Now we get to the present day -- where the Internet is a prevalent force in our everyday lives, and now having a proliferation of information sources has created a number of challenges to the News Consumer. 

Here are the main three challenges that we focus on in this lesson. 

Challenges for Consumers:

  • Challenge 1: Information Overload

  • Challenge 2: The Blurring of the Lines

  • Challenge 3: Overcoming Your Own Bias


Challenge 1: Information Overload

How do we find the truth when every day is an information tsunami?

The average American sees and hears 100,000 words per day outside work, according to the Global Information Industry Center at U.S.C.

And a new study of social media users, published by,(cq) an online magazine, looks at social media users and finds the average user gets more than 250 links per day on various platforms. Research indicates information overload can make people feel anxious and powerless. Teresa Amabile of Harvard Business School has spent more than a decade studying the work habits of 238 people. She finds people are more creative if they are allowed to focus without interruptions.

This course arose from that question: With so much information flying around, how do we fight the temptation to just go completely passive and learn only what gets pushed on us by social media?


Challenge 2: The Blurring of the Lines

A significant number of Americans get their news from Comedy Central shows like “The Daily Show”  What does this do to the definition of journalism? Does that matter? Who is a Journalist?

When you pick up this food magazine while at the checkout counter, you might flip through it for a recipe or two and chances are the recipes are well-illustrated, well-tested and described in a way that makes you hungry.

But if you look closely, every single recipe calls for the use of one or more products from Kraft foods.
This is a simple example of a big problem: If you don’t think critically about the sources of the information you use, your information diet will be sneaky ads and marketing instead of a healthy mix of facts.

Web tools make everyone’s “News” look like the real thing. And online marketers are not prevented or even criticized for using fake news websites to sell products…or politicians.


Challenge 3: Overcoming your own Bias

Neuro scientists and political scientists and sociologists are documenting more and more ways in which our perceptions and memories are unreliable.
If we’re not careful, we cave in to a cluster of psychological effects known as Cognitive Dissonance, which is the human animal’s deep deep discomfort with new information that contradicts longstanding beliefs.

What is Cognitive Dissonance?
Married in a Christian Church, belongs to a Christian congregation, President Obama was attacked during the 2008 campaign for the public remarks of his controversial Christian pastor.
During the Democratic primaries, Hillary Clinton supporters circulated a rumor that Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. and was therefore not eligible to serve as President. In the general election, right-wing groups picked up the rumor in support of a conspiracy theory: that Obama, whose father followed Islam, is a closet jihadist bent on the destruction of the U.S.

Polls show people believe still this stuff. Why? One explanation we’ll talk about is every human’s tendency to seek out information that confirms our beliefs and to deny the credibility of evidence that disputes what we believe or think we already know.