Some of us celebrate our diversity.

For decades we have used the metaphor “melting pot” to describe America.

California Governor Jerry Brown in his first go-around as the state’s chief executive even labeled the Golden State as a “mosaic” to describe the various ethnicities, creeds and orientations that populate the left coast state.

mosaic

And yet a mosaic is a series of pieces, separated by channels of grout. Each one is separate and distinct from the other. We may talk about diversity and mosaics, but in reality aren’t we really just part of the segments that comprise The Segmentation Society?

Can this realization be the root of our inability to come together for a common cause? And when we do (e.g., immediate aftermath of September 11), this camaraderie does not last long.

And if anything aren’t we championing the brilliance of those who make the most hay out of segments…err…demographics? Are you listening David Alexrod?

Barack Obama won a second term putting together a blue-state coalition that included so many  black, yellow, brown, young, secular, single-female mosaic pieces. The other chips of broken china need not apply.

Eight years earlier, George W. Bush won his own second term through the assembly of a red-state coalition that included so many white, brown, older, religious, married-female mosaic pieces. The other pieces were not necessary to complete the Electoral-College puzzle. Are you listening Karl Rove?

For the shrinking-in-influence news media, particularly those on cable television, the lucrative answer to The Segmentation Society has been to turn to the polemics.

The Pew Research Center’s State of the News Media 2013 report pointed to growing trend toward editorial rather than reportorial content. MSNBC on the left “leads” the way with 85 percent of its 2007-2012 content being opinion or commentary with only 15 percent being straight news. Fox News on the right devotes 55 percent of its airtime on opinion and commentary with 45 percent for hard news. CNN wins or loses (e.g. low Nielsen ratings) this contest with 46 percent opinion and commentary and 54 for news gathering.

oreilly

Amplifying the point, Pew reported that MSNBC owned by Comcast directed only $240 million for news gathering, while Fox News run by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation devotes the cable industry leading $820 million for reporting.

Fox News president Roger Ailes made the correct business decision that conservatives were an underserved segment and wanted a network that met their needs. Enter Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and on occasion, Bill O’Reilly.

MSNBC saw itself as the liberal counterweight to Fox News and bludgeons conservatives by means of the tender mercies of Lawrence O’Donnell, Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz, Chris Matthews and at one time, the fair and “balanced” Keith Olbermann.

Rachel%20Maddow%2008_grid-4x2

Elections are won picking up segments (demographics) and tossing them into the electoral shopping cart.

Networks reel in the dough as if it was manna from heaven by throwing editorial and commentary red meat to the true believers whether they be aligned with the left or the right. It really doesn’t matter as long as confiscatory advertising rates can be charged

To the public relations community, which according to Pew now has a 3.6 to 1.0 ratio “advantage” over the remaining journalists, the goal is to use conventional and digital means to reach the stakeholders…the targeted segments.

In choreographing a public relations campaign is the goal to identify the segment or to craft the message that appeals to the segment…or both?

Social media outlets with their trusty algorithms allow us to segment ourselves through our key strokes and send related ads to the right side of our Facebook page. Whether we like it or not (most would say “not”), we just pigeonholed ourselves.

And each time we pigeonhole ourselves, we place ourselves into an ever narrower portion of the pie or bar chart. We are individuals after all with our own particular DNA and cell structures.

This is all brings us back to the original point. Should we be celebrating diversity? Should we hold out that we can all come together for common good? Or should we realize that majority rule means using digital tools…the ones and zeroes of binary code…to reach those demographics, mosaic pieces, segments…that are most likely to buy the product or pull the lever?

It seems that train has already left that station, if you don’t mind one more metaphor.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffbercovici/2013/03/18/pew-study-finds-msnbc-the-most-opinionated-cable-news-channel-by-far/

http://stateofthemedia.org/2013/overview-5/

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