I was walking on the Upper East Side this morning and caught a glimpse of the New York Post on a newstand.  The sight of it brought to mind a documentary I watched on Netflix a few days ago called “Stupidity.”  The film attempts to define and explain human stupidity.

One of it’s premises is that the media is responsible for much of the stupidity to be found in the world today.  That the idiot box truly turns people into idiots, and that newspapers are written with an eighth grade audience in mind so as not to alienate any of it’s readers.  A journalist is interviewed in the documentary and states that for every publication he has written for, he has been instructed to write for such an audience.

Some years ago, I read somewhere that the New Yok Post was subjected to a test to discover what the Flesch-Kincaid readability score is, and is was discovered to be written for fourth graders.  The National Center for Education did a study to find that the average reading level for people in the US was 7th grade.  It was shown in this study that when readers come across text that exceeds their reading level, they stop reading.  I would assume that in order to improve one’s reading level, you must read above your level.

Is it the job of the media, or the New York Post, in this case to imporve the reading level of it’s readership?  Hardly.  I only know that when I see a copy of the New York Post with it’s stupid headlines, I feel a little sick to my stomach.  Here are some examples:

Regarding the last headline, I remember how this “news” story about a woman who was driving drunk showed up as headlines for about a week, while in Iran people were protesting in the street about their corrupt elections.  Granted, the New York Post is a tabloid, and as such, I guess has no responsibility to report real news.  As part of the News Corporation, run by Rupert Murdoch, their responsibility is to their shareholders, and to get those shareholders as much profit as they can.

So, whose responsibility is it to inform the public?  Is it an individuals’ responsibility?  The information is out there, if you search for it.  The age of information has as it’s downfall that the loudest are usually the one that gets heard.  These headlines are loud.

If I am screaming in your ear, am I at fault, or are you for not moving out of range of my voice?  What if I have people on every corner screaming?  How does one get away?  If, in order to maximize profits for my shareholders, I pollute the air, am I not responsible for the pollution?  The New York Post is polluting the information stream, so where is the Environmental Protection Agency to shut them down?  I say that the New York Post, and other media outlets, by this analogy, are indeed responsible for making people stupid.