How much real news does “the most informed public in the world” get from network newscasts? That sex sells and money talks predates the Dead Sea Scrolls. Those who have significant quantities of either usually keep quiet about it. Those who don’t but wish they had, may get it vicariously from cinema, television, the Internet and broadcast news.
Cinema, television and the Internet offer broad choices. Good or bad they are, nevertheless, choices. Sadly, broadcast news is nothing but edited sound bites, with greater emphasis on tittle-tattle, consumer information and the seedy side of life and death. Granted there is a niche for all the above. But don’t believe for one sound bite of a nano-second you are being roundly informed through the corpocracy of network news.
Counting on the un-rich and un-famous to gain a certain satisfaction from watching the anointed fall from grace, “kick ’em when they’re up, kick ’em when they’re down” is the mantra of network news. Referred to as schadenfreude by the literati, taking pleasure in the troubles of others is a significant factor in how news and information is presented to the American public.
For weeks on end “news” stories center on reality TV porn shows, murders, suicides and “did they or didn’t she?” Never mind that a 535 member body of government cannot come to terms with illegal immigration, health insurance for all or the protection of our wide-open ports and land borders. Never mind that companies boast billions of dollars of profit while Joe and Jane Doe, who can’t afford a tank of gas, may also lose their promised pensions?
Because sex, money, rape and murder translate to ever-higher ratings, the mega corporations that now own the Networks profit more from titillating gossip that serves as entertainment than news and information that serves the public interest. That British tabloids are merciless in their pursuit of trash is well known. But guess what? British news anchors look like ordinary people, not movie stars. Their news and information is broader in scope and far more informative than ours. If you don’t believe it, listen to the BBC.
To determine whether he could survive independent of society, for two years Henry David Thoreau lived alone in the woods at Walden Pond, Massachusetts. “Most people lead lives of quiet desperation,” wrote Thoreau. He also believed passionately that anyone could elevate his or her life by conscious endeavor. AIG did not exist when Thoreau wrote, “A corporation has no conscience. But a corporation of conscientious men is a corporation with a conscience.”
The no-conscience corpocracy lords have their media serfs pandering to the public’s abbreviated attention span, which the corporations themselves encouraged through decades of sound bites. At an elbow-to-elbow cocktail party, UFA88MM the 30-second sound bite you deliver will get you a 30-second response from your listener before he or she moves on to the next uninformed guest.
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Notwithstanding old news icons like Edward R. Murrow, Eric Sevareid and Walter Cronkite, it still remains the responsibility of the highly paid network news anchors to penetrate the major issues, not spoon-feed the daily insipid pap that filters down from the President’s press secretary. The American people deserve better and it is the people’s responsibility to demand better from broadcast news and their Network Overlords. When the voice of the people is heard in the land, even the turtles in congress listen.