News & Information

Niche News, China, World Affairs, Priorities

The Morning Show
  • Nov 13, 2014 2:00 pm
  • 1:42:59

NEWS IN THE ECHO CHAMBER  Chances are, if you are a staunch Republican, you were probably tuned into Fox News as the Mid-term election results came in last week.  CNN or MSNBC are generally considered the go-to cable news source for more liberal viewers. The political polarization of cable news has caused consternation among broadcasters who are losing news audience. It’s also an oft-mentioned concern of academics who fear an “echo-chamber” effect, where people are only exposed to arguments and ideas they agree with.  BYU Communications professor Joel Campbell notes that Fox News led the ratings last Tuesday night. “Maybe this was a Republican love-fest, but is there this polarization that people go to the news sources that coincides with that?”  Absolutely, says University of Texas at Austin communications studies professor Talia Stroud. “It’s not just cable news, you see the same thing online, in newspaper reading habits and radio programs that people listen to – there’s something about people’s partisanship that attracts them to certain news outlets.” Stroud’s recent book is titled “Niche News: The Politics of News Choice.”  “People are looking for a news outlet they trust – they’re not necessarily looking for an outlet that matches their partisan beliefs,” says Stroud. “But it just so happens that people consider outlets that match their beliefs to be more trustworthy.”  “We seek a world that matches what we already know - beliefs that match ours are easier to digest,” says Stroud.  OBAMA IN CHINA  President Barack Obama has been in China this week, hashing out agreements with the nation’s leader on tariffs, travel and the environment. But he’s also there working on a relationship that matters very much to America’s own economy and national security. Secretary of State John Kerry says it’s “the world’s most consequential relationship.”  Chinese President Xi Jinping is said to be unlike his predecessors: the New York Times called Xi “a strongman with bold ambitions at home and abroad who sees China as a great power peer of the United States.”  “Xi represents a change in generations in China’s leadership,” agrees Eric Hyer, BYU professor of political science and Chinese foreign relations. “Xi is fairly popular at home because of his focus on rooting out government corruption - the ‘tigers and the flies,’” says Hyer. “It’s a balance because he needs to appear tough on corruption, but doesn’t want to undermine the strength of the Community Party.”  Xi is very taken with what he calls, “a new model of great power relationships in which China is consider equal to the United States,” says Hyer.  “He often says, ‘The Pacific is large enough for both of us, but Asian affairs will be handled by Asia.”  Xi’s government has cracked down significantly on dissidents and academics seen to be sympathetic to the West or too critical of the Communist Party.  “It’s telling that China now spends more money on domestic security – keeping its own people in line – than it does on protecting itself from other nations,” says Hyer. “There’s a sense that an uprising in China can happen at any moment.” (Witness the recent protests in Hong Kong, and long standing conflicts with the Uighurs and Tibet.)  “On paper,” Hyer says Obama’s visit to China this week was tremendously successful: the two nations agreed to extend travel visas for citizens, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and cut tariffs on high-tech goods.  Hyer says the tariff reduction is very significant for the U.S. because it could increase export to China of very high-end technology like MRIs and other medical equipment. The increased trade could mean tens of thousands of new jobs in the U.S. and billions in profit, says Hyer.  A TREE IN TENNESSEE  Provo-based band The National Parks performs “A Tree in Tennessee” live on BYU Radio’s Highway 89.  WORLD EVENTS TO WATCH  BYU political scientist Quinn Mecham offers some tips on where to focus your attention in international news.  (1) Iranian Nuclear Negotiations: Negotiations have been going on for about a year – and earlier July deadline was missed. On Tuesday in Vienna, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council are meeting with Iranian negotiators to sign a deal by Nov. 24. “Unless a clock is ticking, negotiations could go on indefinitely,” says Mecham of the deadline. The Iranians want to develop a nuclear power program, so they are insisting on maintaining that in the negotiations. Other world powers are eager for Iran not to have the capability to develop a nuclear weapon. “A lot is at stake in terms of Iran as a regional power and what it could mean if Iran had a nuclear weapon.”  What makes these negotiations different is that “both sides really want a deal,” says Mecham. “Iran has really been hit – oil revenues are down, inflation and unemployment are very high – because of international sanctions tied to its nuclear program. A deal that would provide sanctions relief is a good thing for Iran.”  From the Western perspective, “taking out a nuclear threat in Iran is a very difficult thing to do militarily and could coalesce more militant groups against the West,” says Mecham.  Remains unclear whether Iranian leaders have power to give U.S. the deal it wants. Questions about Obama’s ability to deliver on a deal also exist, given new Republican control of Senate.  (2) Mexican Student Protests: Mexico’s president has lots of trouble at home, says Mecham. Protests have broken out – often violent protests – all stemming from a notorious case in September when 43 students (they were teacher trainees) were essentially taken by polic officers. “They are missing and the Attorney General of Mexico recently came out and said he believes they were abducted by police on orders of the mayor in the town where they were protesting,” says Mecham. “The Attorney General says he believes the students were handed over to a gang affiliated with the drug economy, killed and incinerated.”  “This incident has escalated all the way to the top of Mexican politics,” says Mecham. “What makes this incident have particular resonance for Mexicans is that it appears to be so blatant. These students were protesting at an event of the wife of the mayor in the town they were in. So the ties between politicians, security and criminal elements are really exposed. However, it is not unique. In fact, as they’ve been searching for these students, they’ve uncovered a bunch of mass graves that are not these students. The corruptibility of the security services is largely due to the fear of these criminal gangs. While they may not be on the payroll of the gangs, they’re strongly influenced by them and fear that they’ll find themselves on the wrong side of the games.”  (3) Ousted President in Burkina Faso: Mecham says not unlike the Arab Spring, the recent resignation of President Blaise Compaore in Burkina Faso was prompted by the people. “We saw some courageous protesters storming the parliament building, setting the building on fire as an act of defiance, forcing the President to flee,” says Mecham.  The people were calling for an end to Compaore’s 27-year rule. On his resignation, the military stepped in and put a military leader in control of the country. Mecham notes that “protests continued saying, ‘Don’t you dare take this moment from us to come in and set up a military government. This is a popular uprising.’”  Mecham says the popular uprising in Burkina Faso has other African presidents nearing their term limits getting nervous that similar calls for democracy could spread to their people.  PRIORITIES, PRIORITIES  There’s never enough time to accomplish all of our priorities, is there?  A 2013 survey by McKinsey Research found only nine percent of executives around the world are “very satisfied” with their present allocation of time. Barely half of executives in the survey said the way they spend their time largely matched the strategic priorities of their organization.  Management consultant Dan Purkey says that’s primarily because people think they’re prioritizing when they really not. “People talk about it but they don’t do it. True priorities are defined by actions, not words.”  Purkey is CEO of The Open Door Group and author of the book, “Uncommon Sense Management: Why 70% of Americans Hate Their Job and How to Fix it.”  Being busy is not the same things as being productive, warns Purkey. And often, a person’s prioritize do not mesh with those of his/her manager. “I had a manager once who gave me a four-page list of priorities. You can’t have four pages of priorities and get anything done. You need to narrow down the list.”  And, adds Purkey, “most people are afraid to let go of priorities.”  Successful prioritization starts with the four-page list, but “then you have to do a bubble sort. Which is more important, A or B? Then you move on and say, which is more important, A or C?”   Once you have that list, you work your way down it. And Purkey says, beware the temptation to skip to lower priorities on the list because they’re easier to accomplish.  How to get keep your manager from hijacking your progress? Purkey says, “Manage from the bottom up, by initiating the conversation. A major problem with communication is the illusion that it’s taken place when it hasn’t.”   COUGAR SPORTS  BYU Men’s Basketball starts its regular season on Friday night. Women’s Volleyball plays right after the basketball game. On Saturday, Cougar football takes on UNLV. BYU is finally healthy and ready to “go out and destroy,” says BYU Sports Nation co-host Spencer Linton. “And it helps that UNLV is terrible,” adds co-host Jarom Jordan. UNLV’s coach told BYU Sports Nation that his team “will probably have to play perfect to even have a chance,” says Linton.  STORYTELLER: JAY O’CALLAHAN  Jay O’Callahan is “one of the most respected tellers in the storytelling community,” says Sam Payne, host of The Apple Seed on BYU Radio.  O’Callahan tells the story of “The Hyena.”  “My favorite stories of O’Callahan’s are these expansive stories full of voices and characters,” says Payne.