Television news needs to take journalism seriously
Television news has lost its way, now creating the news where it should be reporting it.
In the style of P.T. Barnum, television news now creates events rather than relying on the facts and like Barnum they are doing it for money. One tragedy is raised up and another is ignored, and the very idea of discourse is the casualty.
Take the Casey Anthony case, for example, it is a horrible case to be sure, but anyone keeping abreast of crime news knows that horrible cases like this are depressingly common.
Every day, some new crime of equal or even worse proportions goes unmentioned in the televised news, but this one case was raised up so that teams of pundits and professional opinion-makers could all get a paycheck.
Is it to feed the “24-hour news cycle,” or are there just lots of unemployed pundits that needed regular work between actual news stories? Nancy Grace was famous for this tactic, branding events with derisive pet names sure to provoke interest and writing an avenging angel narrative that could serve no other purpose than to taint the jury pool and subvert the judicial system, and she did it consistently every week in order to draw in viewers.
This is more than just a corruption of journalistic ethics, but a corruption of discourse itself. Professional opinion makers are not chosen for the quality of their ideas, but for their ability to look good in front of a camera and ability to spout offensive opinions at a rapid-fire rate.
The very idea of discourse has been abandoned. Echo chambers at Fox and MSNBC manufacture outrage for a public that would not be otherwise so divided.
Liberal and conservative politics are ripe with the mockery of each other when they should be focusing on the common problems affecting the nation such as the poor economy, immigration, healthcare and national defense.
For better or worse, the viewer has no longer been allowed to review the facts and make their own decisions.
Gone are the ideals of journalistic neutrality, only to be replaced by “info-tainment” that at best only parodies the opposition’s position. Fox news doesn’t even pretend that most of their programming is news any more, going so far as to publish press releases stating this fact.
And yet, this is the only form of news people are receiving. Blame an increasingly complicated and information-drenched world, but also put some blame on the providers of content who are filling the airwaves with manufactured news that the average person has neither the time nor the willingness to sift through.
Where is the investigative journalism?
Where are the unscripted interviews with important figures where they are asked hard questions about issues of the day?
Why do coke-addled, third-rate actresses make the national non-entertainment news when our economy is in freefall and the American dream is becoming propaganda instead of a promise?
Why isn’t anyone talking about the fact that wealth inequality is rising and the bottom 50% of the nation controls a mere 2% of the wealth and the top 20% control 84% of the wealth? Why is Youtube.com breaking the stories about police brutality and not the televised news?
Why are we relying on people who look good on camera for news content instead of men and women firmly beholden to such out-of-fashion concepts as “journalistic integrity?”
In short, we at the Rip condemn this sorry state of affairs, and we ask our prettier and more famous brothers in the noble profession of journalism to be men and women of the news first, ladies and gentlemen second, and to seek the profit motive last of all.