It wasn’t that long ago that just about everyone in America read the newspaper everyday. The main source of news for most was the evening news preceded by thirty minutes of local news that may or may not have related to your day. At worst, you got the sports scores and the local weather and an assortment of deals at the local car dealerships. And for those lucky enough not to have to get up too early, the eleven o’clock news sent you off to bed fully nourished and informed with the happenings of the day. That was before news became entertainment.
Now twenty-four hour streaming news comes at us non-stop from high atop the corporate headquarters of everyone from General Electric to the entertainment world of Walt Disney! The majority of it not necessarily as credible as what the readers of the past might have found on their news desktops being that the promise now is not necessarily just the facts, “mam,” but that if you listen and watch we will entertain you.
The recent financial crash found more than one financial newscaster expressing the caveat that, “hey this is entertainment!” You are not supposed to believe everything you hear and if you do, shame on you, not our fault! Many people who lived and died by this information regarding their financial future were not amused to be reminded of this fact.
Jon Stewart regularly pokes fun at the so-called mainstream media for its gaffs and flaws and as of late he has no lack of material to draw on. CNN is now featuring Twitter reports as news. The fantasy news network with its more righteous than now reporters have developed an air of factuality that supersedes any credulity conceivable. The majority news is spun and sterilized to the point that credibility contains a connection to reality only in name of subject only!
How far have we distanced ourselves from the days of Cronkite and Severeid to that where a radio personality and entertainer yields dominance over an entire political party and reaches twenty million people a day? Yet we the people, and in America that means you and I, have little choice but to look to the media for information that we in turn use to make important decisions. Like whom we want to vote for or what polices we support that the government may be for or against. If we start looking at news as entertainment and not as a refection of a reality that is out there, coming to the understanding that what we are seeing isn’t necessarily rooted in fact, our choices, beliefs and ideas of reality suddenly seem less important that they were.
As news programs became entertainment departments of major corporations how much did we loose in fact versus fiction reporting just to get ratings? Good news travels fast, bad news even faster, but hyped up news aimed to get ratings travels the fastest. And it all happened while you and I were quietly sitting right there in front of the tube sound asleep. Pass the Jon and Kate please!
While the bells, whistles and buzzers of modern day media stream twenty-four seven into our ears and eyes, could we take a moment every now and then to ask ourselves, where did that come from? The next time you hear or see the news, ask yourself if the story answered the five basic questions every news story must answer; who, what, when, where, and why. For if you aren’t getting that much, why watch it in the first place? You don’t eat half a sandwich, watch half the movie and leave, nor go half way to work and go home. Why are we settling for anything less in our news?