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.

Categories: Ellin Curley, Entertainment, News, Politics

Tags: , , , , , ,

26 replies

  1. News media has never been free of the bias of the ‘decision makers’, especially mainstream media.


    • 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

  2. 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.


  3. The reality though the eyes of media is not real anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The movie “Network” really shows the way this went very well. They meant it as fiction, but most of it has actually happened.

    Liked by 3 people

    • 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

      • 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

      • 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

    • Great movie that is more relevant today then when it was made!

      Liked by 1 person

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