NEWS AS ENTERTAINMENT – BY ELLIN CURLEY

Something tragic happened to America’s news media in the early 1980’s. Before then, the news divisions of the major television networks were not expected to make money. They were considered to be a public service designed to give people the information they needed to be well-informed voters and intelligent citizens. At some point in the 1980’s, the news was suddenly expected to make a profit, like the other divisions.

News budgets got cut, investigative journalism, which takes time and personnel, went out the window. The emphasis shifted to what “sells” the news and gets good ratings.

The most trusted man in America during his career

The phrase “infotainment” got coined and the percentage of accurately informed citizens plummeted. The internet became a big source of news for many people, but the standard remained – give people what they think they want, not what they should know to make well-reasoned civic decisions.

Our news reporting tends to be ethnocentric. All forms of American news media report every word the president utters and every tweet he writes. Yet there is very little coverage, if any, of things going on in other countries which can often affect world politics and economics. This is what sells and doesn’t sell in U.S news.

Our news media also tend to focus on violence and sensationalism here at home, again, because this is what sells. Violent crimes in the U.S. are covered ad infinite – murders, assaults, rapes, police shootings, mass shootings, etc. Many of these are valid news stories, but so are the massacres, crimes against women and government sanctioned murders that happen daily elsewhere in the world and get little coverage.

Sports, celebrity and local government scandals are also wildly popular and omnipresent news stories. But I wish they were covered less and more was reported about the massive corruption in our system that allows Big Pharma or Big Food, insurance or oil lobbies, for example, to determine what drugs, food, insurance, oil, etc. we get and at what prices. These stories get some play but not with the frequency, enthusiasm and decibel level of the latest psychopathic murderer or morally questionable politician or media star.

No one has the time today to read or watch everything out there purporting to be news and decide for ourselves what we need to know to understand what is going on in our country and in the world. I wish we could go back to the days when we trusted an impartial media to sift through the world news and honestly decide for us what was important to know.

26 thoughts on “NEWS AS ENTERTAINMENT – BY ELLIN CURLEY”

    1. Sad but true. Being right in the middle of “the change”, I often felt the need to wash my hands after doing a story that didn’t merit air time. Many people, like me, tried to fight the good fight but your job could vanish and then you’d have NO voice. So, we set up some”inside scams” that allowed us to get genuine news stories on the air. There was always a price to pay. But I figured it was worth it. I used to get feedback from viewers, thanking me for efforts to tell stories — straight forward, objective and sans horse dung. I’m sure Tommy has similar stories to share.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There always were, and fortunately still are, responsible journalists on TV who really want to inform viewers and educate them rather than entertain them. Rachel Maddow is a shining light in this group. She does long and often rambling stories that make you wonder half way through why you are hearing about this. Then she pulls it all together at the end and makes a cogent and important point that enhances your understanding of some major issue. It’s very hopeful and positive that her ratings are so good and people love her so much!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh yeah. I worked with the idiot that invented the term “Infotainment” When Bill Paley died everything changed. He never cared of his news division made money. “That’s what I have Jack Benny for.” Actual quote.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. It depends on what you watch and whether or not you read newspapers and check sources. NO single source is going to be entirely accurate. I don’t know when people started to assume that a single source was the whole truth. That’s just dumb.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Not true. Maybe the likes of Fox News. But doesn’t apply to most of the other networks and local stations. You can’t use a broad brush. You’re underminding the efforts of too many good people.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Fox “Newsman” Sean Hannity campaigned with POTUS last night. That’s a NO-NO for journalists who are supposed to be objective in their professional mode. Fox allegedly is “upset” with Hannity but I doubt if there’ll be any meaningful reprimand.

          Liked by 1 person

      1. The actual mainstream media, excluding Fox actually have strict rules about confirming sources and getting story right. I worked briefly for Fox. Every day a memo would come down from Roger Aiiles that told everybody what they would say that day. It was appalling.

        Liked by 1 person

    3. When most mainstream media sources are reporting the same thing, you can be sure that what they are saying is true. Not every TV station or paper is 100% accurate all the time, but facts are facts. And when several different media sources (not including Fox news or the right wing propoganda machine) report the same thing, you can be sure that what you are hearing are actual, verifiable facts.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. Absolutely. You can’t entirely take your bias out of story. But the real networks try as best they can. This myth that all news lies it just that. A myth.

          Liked by 1 person

  1. They a lot a certain amount of time (half hour or hour) and they have to fill it with something. Unfortunately that something doesn’t quite do it.
    Leslie

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    1. There are usually a few important stories each day and the rest is fluff and fill. But the major stories that most of the mainstream media all agree to cover, usually have merit and add to my understanding of what’s going on in the world in some way.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Not like today. This IS different. I’m a media watcher and Garry was a reporter his entire working life. He didn’t lie. His friends didn’t lie. He was not told to lie. But now we have a president who doesn’t know what the truth is. Have stories been “spun” a bit? Yes, but at least they started out using REAL information or what we otherwise call “facts.” The kind of misinformation we are seeing now is NOT HOW IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN. In fact, it isn’t how it has EVER been. At least not in this country.

      Liked by 1 person

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