In the age of mass media, the press was able to define the sphere of legitimate debate with relative ease because the people on the receiving end were atomized — connected ‘up’ to Big Media but not across to each other. But now that authority is eroding. I will try to explain why.
It’s easily the most useful diagram I’ve found for understanding the practice of journalism in the United States, and the hidden politics of that practice. You can draw it by hand right now. Take a sheet of paper and make a big circle in the middle. In the center of that circle draw a smaller one to create a doughnut shape. Label the doughnut hole ‘sphere of consensus.’ Call the middle region ‘sphere of legitimate debate,’ and the outer region ‘sphere of deviance.’