Omission is something the vast majority of us look over, take for granted and outright embrace as an acceptable attitude toward personal and public issues. If we assume there is no need to burden or otherwise involve a second party in information we personally see unimportant then we will remove it from any dialogues and let the issue sit as is. Sometimes this is important in maintaining a sense of stability for oneself as to alleviate burdens of friends and family who have their own issues at hand and the problem is small enough that it can wait, or with coworkers and friends the issue is irrelevant to social stability so it will be set aside until a casual relevance occurs. However there are professional and civil responsibilities that come up and it is our duty, be it moral or contractual, to be open in these cases.
Throughout conventional media we are exposed every day to advertising, political agendas and news media spins from various sources both associated and separate that do not include all the relevant information to their opinions and facts because they believe on some level this will dissuade others from having interest in what those public authorities have to offer. While this is not new information to most people and this stream of thought will no doubt bring no revelations to this issue it is still important to address this out loud to better reinforce the fact that there is an information bias in media based on what does and does not resonate with an audience.
While there are no doubt names for these they do need designations and will be addressed as follows; direct and indirect omission are the approaches most authorities take in their presentations. Direct omission is when one gives facts about a subject and leaves certain facts out of their delivery as to laud the positives enough to have people be less skeptical about the possibility of negatives. Indirect omission is either casually or aggressively changing the subject of inquiry about what may be in question to avoid having to give context about what is being omitted.
Typically both methods are used in advertising, politics and news media but with news direct omission is more common as there is no dialogue between the audience and the authority and in politics indirect is more common because of a constant dialogue with the authority’s audience. Advertising is a mixed bag because some adverts are placed direct due to the nature of print, digital and other media are mostly direct and door-to-door sales, calls, walk-in sales and public event promotions can be indirect due to dialogues with clients and audiences.
What one can look for in direct omission is more complex than what one can look for in indirect omission but both can easily sway a person into believing in the facts without full context of how they relate to the needs of the audience.
In indirect omission we have the authority being addressed once the audience is confused, concerned or just curious due to specific information brought up or glossed over in presentation. In turn the authority will draw attention to either the import of the over-arching subject or they will focus on satellite facts that are important but not relevant to the point of confusion, concern or curiosity. The best way to address this form of omission is to be an active listener and invest yourself in the details of the subject matter. Once you find yourself paying more attention to the facts and less attention to the presenter or the presentation then you will be able to notice gaps or at least ask questions that will make gaps more apparent. This works best with salespersons as they are in a consistent state of shifting topics to avoid any gaps in their own knowledge or failing points with their product. Politics in this regard can be more complicated as there is a time frame for public events and interviews so complicated subjects will need more specific focus and trying to gain too much information at once will waste time. In politics, focus on what is not known about the authority’s position in a specific area and be precise as to avoid open-ended questions and easily shifted talking points.
In direct omission the authority will present a one-sided argument via media that can be addressed or argued by the audience but with what is typically more effort than the audience is willing to put forth. With these situations it is best to be an active audience and pay attention to adverts and reports as they will tend to present information as facts either without adequate detail or claims presenting falsehoods as truths via omission of full content. Researching and comparing sources of information is more important with news media as these are fact based authorities and any gaps in their information, regardless of intent, can mislead people and lead them to think information is accurate and true even when it may not be. With adverts the importance of research lies solely in the intent of the audience with a need. If a consumer finds they are in need of a service and without careful consideration of an advert they recently saw they may default to that authority for services as opposed to a more satisfactory service. While not as important as the other considerations on the whole, if these product is insurance, food or housing then these things can have drastic negative effects on a person and their lifestyle if they have chosen poorly due to a lack of information, and this applies to sales situations regarding indirect omission as well.
There are many arguments placing responsibility on the audience to ensure they are safe in regards to misinformation while others could easily argue that some authorities present their information in such a way that is detrimental or dangerous given what is omitted. While both arguments can be made there is a moral line that each authority draws when they are presenting themselves, their causes, their information and their products. Authorities rely on our trust and we rely on their presentation, so both have responsibility and both should be active in the process.