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I saw it on the news – it must be true!

Take a journey with me back to the late 70’s when Ted Turner had an idea, thought it was genius and launched it on the world. Can you just imagine him saying, “Dude. Dude! Check it out: what if we created a 24 hour a day news network for this new-fangled cable thing?” Then imagine Jane Fonda hiking up her leg warmers and shrugging, “I don’t know. Is there that much news to report in a day?”

As we know, CNN became a reality and spawned way too many 24/7 news outlets, not only on our TVs but on the internet, on regular radio, satellite radio, social networks and telepathic download.

I like to know what’s going on in the world as much as the next Earth dweller but my problem with the proliferation of non-stop media sources is that it has caused the journalists who report the news to lose their objectivity.

Journalists are traditionally known as The Fourth Estate because they are supposed to be separate from us when they report the goings on in the world. They are supposed to be objective – to report the news without letting their own feelings on any subject be known.

When a journalist does want to share his or her opinion it’s called a ‘commentary’ and they are supposed to disclose the fact that they are injecting their own perspective on a subject. The situation today, though, is that in the wake of non-stop compulsive journalism we’ve lost that imperative objectivity.

Most people now get their news from the news outlet that most closely matches their own political viewpoints. Conservative republicans aren’t checking in with Jon Stewart at the end of the day and few people checking democratic boxes in an election are catching up on current events courtesy of Fox news.

What does this mean for us? Well, for a big obvious starters, it’s clearly driven a big huge wedge between those on the right and those on the left. And just as the middle class is starving into extinction, so are those that ride the middle of the road politically.

This is dangerous for us as a society because we’ve lost a sense of balance with what’s going on in the world. And once journalism ceased to insist on being objective they also went up for sale. Now that large corporations run the shows you watch, the reporters, or, infotainers, as they have to technically be known because they aren’t actually journalists anymore, don’t tell you what’s going on in the world, they tell you what they want you to think.

So my advice is to take your news with a grain of salt. To be forewarned is to be forearmed but we can’t get any armor from our media anymore. We are now, more than ever, responsible for making sure we think for ourselves.

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4 comments on “I saw it on the news – it must be true!

  1. …or just don’t watch it at all!

  2. All true, unfortunately. When I was a kid it seems news people didn’t dare offer up their “analysis” because viewers resented that kind of interjection of opinion. It was considered unprofessional. Least that’s how I remember it.

  3. I dont know if I completely agree. In the sixties there were conservative and liberal newspapers, usually at least one of each in every city of any size. People like HL Mencken and Walter Lippman were certainly not objective. I think its easier to access both sides because of sites like Real Clear Politics.com where they list NYT articles next to ones from the Washington Examiner. People are just more saturated with it all these days.

  4. Great point, Zena. Though to some degree there has always been a divisiveness, I don’t think there can be any argument that our national politics has become increasingly polarized. It seems like it has ramped up in the past twenty years, with increasingly ugly election campaigns, but I wonder if that’s a function of increased media exposure, or just that I’m getting older and am more aware of this. Perhaps Lincoln ran a bloody campaign too, it just wasn’t as widely reported. Regardless, the country is clearly divided into two camps. I don’t know what the solution is. Anarchy, perhaps.

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