Editorial: Personal Silos are Terrible for Democracy


By Jack Ronald

Commercial Review (Portland)

It’s time to start tearing down the silos.

The fact is that many of us consume our media flow in a silo, one defined by our personal philosophy or political ideology. So, what flows our way simply reinforces beliefs that have already been identified thanks to algorithms on Facebook or any one of a thousand other Internet outlets.

That keeps us safely away from ideas that might challenge our preconceptions, ideas that actually might make us think.

The editorial page of a newspaper is intended to be an open marketplace of ideas. There are conservative opinions, liberal opinions, contrarian opinions and conventional opinions. The purpose is to allow readers to sample a little of this and a little of that. In other words, it might make you think.

Ironically, the Internet—which has allowed for a greater spectrum of political expression than anyone ever dreamed imaginable—has changed that in a bad way. Instead of opening doors, the sheer abundance of the Internet has prompted us to close our doors.

Increasingly—and to our detriment as a democracy—news and opinion consumers only read and listen to what they want to hear, the stuff that reinforces and rigidifies views they already held.

That fact may be the greatest threat to maintaining a democratic republic in the United States of America.

If we only read what we agree with, we’ll never learn anything new. We’ll never be able to fashion a compromise. The notion of common ground—something that has held the country together—will become harder and harder to find.

Citizens in silos aren’t fully engaged citizens at all, and democracy suffers from their detachment.


Jack Ronald is the publisher of the Commercial Review (Portland).