T Nation

Too Much News

Are 24 hours “news” channels a good thing?

I think it’s starting to degrade people’s ability to think. When I can stand watching for more than five minutes at a time all I can think is, “how dumb do you think we are?” Celebrity news; commercials which we’re supposed think is news; endless analysis of every single mundane human event; spin; counter-spin; counter-counter-spin. Do they have anything–I don’t know–useful, to add to the mix?

[quote]LIFTICVSMAXIMVS wrote:
Are 24 hours “news” channels a good thing?

I think it’s starting to degrade people’s ability to think. When I can stand watching for more than five minutes at a time all I can think is, “how dumb do you think we are?” Celebrity news; commercials which we’re supposed think is news; endless analysis of every single mundane human event; spin; counter-spin; counter-counter-spin. Do they have anything–I don’t know–useful, to add to the mix?[/quote]

Useful is boring. Useful doesn’t sell. Useful doesn’t get people to watch, so useful doesn’t get the network money because sponsors pay more for commercial time.

Sensationalism, spin, slant? Money in the fucking bank.

[quote]LIFTICVSMAXIMVS wrote:
Do they have anything–I don’t know–useful, to add to the mix?[/quote]

There’s very little ‘hard news’ in the media, far too often. I’m really sorry if a blonde “hottie” was kidnapped or has gone missing, but I don’t think it needs around-the-clock coverage in the national media.

Likewise the coverage of Paris Hilton, Britney, Brangelina and so on. It’s garbage and it takes up valuable airtime that should be devoted to serious journalism.

If people want to watch 24 hour coverage of Britney’s breakdown or Tomkat’s wedding, that’s fine. But networks shouldn’t call it “The News”, they should call it Entertainment Tonight or Access Hollywood.

[quote]CappedAndPlanIt wrote:
Useful is boring.[/quote]

On The Colbert Report, Jim Lehrer said his job is to be boring. Reporting the news isn’t supposed to be glamorous. This may also account for low ratings on PBS.

The reporting of the news has always been slanted. It has often been sensationalistic.

Sometimes we look back at the past with rose colored glasses but there was a lot of bad journalism before cable news.

And Jim Lehrer has many flaws a journalist.

So to answer your question, yes there is too much. It is as bad as it ever was but thee is just more of it.

If you look hard enough you may find a gem but most day to day reporting has traditionally been trash and/or hatchet jobs.

[quote]Zap Branigan wrote:
The reporting of the news has always been slanted. It has often been sensationalistic.

Sometimes we look back at the past with rose colored glasses but there was a lot of bad journalism before cable news.

And Jim Lehrer has many flaws a journalist.

So to answer your question, yes there is too much. It is as bad as it ever was but thee is just more of it.

If you look hard enough you may find a gem but most day to day reporting has traditionally been trash and/or hatchet jobs.[/quote]

I am not just talking about the slantedness of the news. As far as I am concerned there is no such thing as objectivity in reporting (or science for that matter) but there is such thing as fairness. As far as Jim Lehrer, I don’t know because I rarely watch his show.

His comment about how news is supposed to be boring struck me as poignant. Not that I actually think that is what he meant. What I think he meant–at least how I understood it–is that we aren’t supposed to engage the news with emotion. Not that we aren’t supposed to have emotion but that we shouldn’t be influenced by the method.

For example, dramatic music playing in the background on “breaking news” or the use of emotive language, these are things that feed opinion–and I feel it is mostly adverse. None of these things were part of news casts before 24 hour cable news.

Field reporters are the biggest problem with fairness that is why the anchor is there to help distill information and bring some sense of “objectivity”. Now field reporters are acting as analysts which in my mind is not good. These are the people who are the most spoiled when it comes to news. Their experiences while valid keep them from being fair.

The difference between fairness and objectivity in my opinion is thus:

Fairness is the ability to report from more than one perspective (or frame of reference). Objectivity is a bit harder to have because it makes the assumption that there is no previous perspective on what is being reported–for example, looking at information for the first time. Having a “fresh set of eyes” all the time is not possible and this is what is required to have objectivity.