The critical processing of news is more important than the credibility of the source delivering that news.
In this age of information, I find myself becoming less concerned with where the information is coming from. That’s a big step for someone who still values truth, confidentiality and credibility.
As a journalist and writer, I understand the need to separate news from analysis. I know it is important to separate news from entertainment.
But in our current collective consciousness, that's rare.
I believe that there are those who still can distinguish what is entertainment from what is news and information. They consume the media, make their own sound opinions on topics important to them, and go on their way.
However, I’m finding that is not the case for a growing segment of our community … and the scariest part, news producers are among them.
As "Evidence A," I offer this clip from MSNBC in which a former member of Congress is interrupted for "Breaking News" about the man of the moment, Justin Bieber.
Former congresswoman Jane Harman was talking about the NSA collecting phone records. I’m going to assume she was talking about a certain political slant to that topic. That’s what politicians do, right?
Now, the Bieber story may have had more immediacy than what was on the air; I’ll give producers the benefit of the doubt there. The news hook here would be the timeliness factor.
But, "Breaking News" for Justin Bieber?
That in itself is the most fearsome thing I’ve ever seen on television.
Because there are so many different, fractured and niche sources for news information, one needs to be more mindful of how to process the information rather than the credibility of the source.
The reason for this is two-fold.
One, the top outlets for national news – especially in the cable TV arena – have had to sell out credibility for marketability to stay in business. Political slants, positioning of stories and what I would almost consider "character development" from the fiction entertainment industry, are tactics used to keep people watching in the down time between actual news events.
Second, the better the brand a news outlet has, the better the chance it has for growth. Here, they take advantage of people who can’t separate analysis reporting and actual news reporting to create a following of lemmings, who will agree with what is being spoon-fed on the screen. More importantly, this group of viewers usually fits nicely into an identified demographic that advertisers want to reach. It’s a win-win for the station and its advertisers.
As far as I know, that last point is something you will not find reported anywhere else. But, you also will not find anyone who would disagree with it.
If you do, I’d love to hear about it. My email appears on this site every day.
I wouldn’t have a problem with the slant and presentations if the outlets would provide worthwhile reporting on huge events and issues our society faces. And to be honest, sometimes these outlets do attempt this.
However, I’m sure they are also in a position where there are not enough resources available to do as good a job as a story warrants.
Instead, we are given coverage of low hanging fruit items that are easy to spout on about for hours.
The ultra-liberal coverage will turn a report about a conservative speaking out about the lack of leadership and oversight to uncover gross overspending by government programs … and they will turn it into a panel discussion with a headline of "GOP hates poor people."
On the other side, we get week-long coverage of people wanting to "take Christ out of Christmas," because they support efforts to be more inclusive and acknowledge people of different faiths celebrate different holidays. Every anchor on Fox News had the chance to rant on it, partly because there is little actual news to cover over the week of Christmas.
The "we report, you decide," tagline is so key and relevant to how we should approach any report from any source on any medium … despite the efforts of the network that came up with it.
Media is bombarding us everywhere.
Instead of sheltering his brain from the onslaught, Steve embraces the news stories, entertainment, billboards, blogs, talk shows and everything in between.
The former writer, editor and producer in TV, radio, Web and newspapers, will be talking about what media does in our community and how it shapes who we are and what we do.