Sunday, August 4, 2013

Mass Media

The first thing that usually comes to mind when I think about media, news, or journalism is my old sociology professor defining anchors as "talking heads". It's a point of view that just stuck. I recall he had a great deal to say about the media, but perhaps he wouldn't rightfully be a sociology professor if he did not. The second thing that comes to mind is, unfortunately, "commentation".

Journalism has declined from the realm where it was not only praise worthy to report the truth, it was a duty. A duty that, if not taken seriously and, if used to propagate for political, ethical, and religious bias, was rewarded with grave punishment and humiliation. The media has managed to shift, however, from the function of telling the truth, to a faulty machine that gives airtime to pseudo idols with their ever present commentary. Commentation heavy with the held biases, political stances, religious preference, and ill thought opinions. It's not good enough that some event has happened and it is truthfully reported, they now have to add such commentary in hopes to draw more viewers and maintain the ones they have. This means that not all the fault can be given to the media. Viewers are just as much responsible for holding these anchors as faultless idols as the media is for wrongly telling the people what they want to hear.

It makes sense really. Television and media companies compete for stats. They are businesses, and as such the intention is to make money. Journalism, however, should not share such stats. Their stats should be based on verifiability, precedent, and detail, not viewers. Their income should not depend upon commercial investment, which places the focus on viewers, but rather it should be based on a national allowance. This, by no measure, is saying that it should be a government ran industry, though many argue that it already is, but the service should be paid by our nation, as journalism is a public service. Our taxes are spent every day on billion dollar projects that we are unaware of. Why not support something we are, and demand objectivity?

That is just one option however. If the viewers truly sought accuracy, then a larger effort than taking O'Reilly's word for it would be required. People hear only what they want, and the journalism world uses this to their advantage, but what is truly sad is that there are so few who want to hear objectivity. People have become apathetic to deduction. We would prefer the news world "figure everything out" and let the anchors deliver it in tidy little packages rather than being presented the facts and determining whatever it is for ourselves.

On top of all this, is the power. The media literally controls the masses, because they control what the masses know. Media has not simply shifted from something that presented truths to something that presents opinions, but it has shifted to something in charge. The strange thing is their control is simply, them taking advantage of everyone elses readiness to believe in something simply because they are fans (i.e. "Fox News said it, then it must be the gospel.").

The internet has freed up the hold some, but it also helps prove just how deep the hold is on so many. When all the information of the internet is in front of you, and you take Sean Hannity's word on face value alone rather than looking it up yourself and doing some cross referencing, then you are both lazy and stupid.

This is the real heart of the matter. The media can perform better and can be held to a higher, more objective bar than it currently is, but only if the masses stop wanting it to be the way it is. This is a frustrating situation to the select few who wish for these higher standards. Although many do not involve themselves with such nonsense, there is no avoiding the effects of the masses, which means there is no avoiding the effects of this ugly thing that was once called journalism.

This is not a small subject, and I have barely scratched the surface. I will stop here for now, though it is likely a topic I will revisit.



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