Ali Ansari writes in the Summer 2007 issue of Neiman Reports about the "Master Narrative" about Iran which emerged in the Western media during the British marine detainment crisis:
Media coverage in Britain and other Western countries was driven by a master narrative that contained within it a number of assumptions related to Western supremacy. . . Moreover, with 24-hour newsgathering and dissemination, reflection and analysis is often replaced, if not determined, by the need to provide rapid assessments and new information. What's happened is that the surplus of news outlets has had the paradoxical effect of increasing our information and reducing our knowledge.
There was and remains a widespread assumption in the duplicity and mendacity of the Iranians, as cunning and calculating to the core. In this narrative, there is no room for mistakes or incompetence. What happens has been planned and, while on occasion Iranians are characterized as great "chess players," by and large any strategic aptitude is regarded as inherently malevolent.
The problem with this view of the Iranians as the duplicitous party in the British Marines affair...turns out that the UK had indeed presented a faked map of the waterway where the Marines were detained by the Iranians.
Thank goodness that Craig Murray publicized this matter before the British gov't fessed up, or else we would all still be chanting the mantra of how the Marines had been detained by them Evil Iranians "in Iraqi waters" or "in international waters"...
But of course, now that the cat is out of the bag, don't expect the same media outlets to give equal time to the news that the Brits faked the map. No, that one too will just go down the memory hole.
In any case, communications specialist have long known of another "paradoxical effect" of increasing our information sources: the polarization of views.
See, you would assume that people should fairly view a broad range of information sources and then adjust their views on any matter according to the information that was presented to them. According to this model then, the more information is presented, people will become better informed and thus will make better decisions.
But instead, people tend to gravitate towards information that confirms and legitimizes their pre-conceptions, and they tend to ignore or downplay contradictory information no matter how well-founded it may be (in many instances once they find a "comfortable" information outlet they won't even bother viewing other information outlets.)
The paradoxical result of increasing information sources is that it tends to polarize people's pre-existing views rather than make people better informed decision-makers. This is a significant consideration, since it is yet another nail in the coffin of the whole concept of a deliberative democracy which rests on the assumption - now pretty much discredited - of the existence of an informed, rational and enthusiastic electorate.