Rethinking Our Earlier Article

 

 News Bias II

 

" TV news used to be about serving the public's interest. Now it's about serving corporate interests."

 

 

When I was in broadcast news there was largely a "hands off" attitude on the content of TV news. 

This has changed.

Today, stories that reflect negatively on the goals of the major U.S. corporations (the ones that own all of the major media outlets in the United States) tend to be downplayed or some cases not even mentioned.

Without the independent or foreign media many stories stories wouldn't be covered at all.

The U.S. networks used to carry in-depth documentaries on important topics, such as the BBC's recent in-depth study of child abuse in the United States, until they found that they didn't generate as much revenue as other types of programming.

Today, you can only find in-depth news coverage in Canadian and British Internet newscasts.

TV news used to be about serving the public's interest. Now it's primarily about serving corporate interests -- profits.

Promoting News Bias

Not too long ago I was approached by a well-funded agency wanting to offer scholarships to our broadcast students. Their stated goal was to develop "conservative thinking journalists."

I'm not sure how they screened applicants, we didn't get that far, but if we start selecting journalism students on the basis of their political thinking, we have abandoned all semblance of objectivity.

Silencing Opposition

In an effort to stamp out political dissension in the United States the government is clamping down on the freedoms of investigative journalists. To gain political support for these efforts journalists are being demonized.

It isn't hard to do and it's popular with large sections of their audience.

Corporate owned 24-hour news sources with the emphasis on profits, ratings, and being "first with the news" at the expense of accuracy, objectivity and civility is largely responsible.

We are also seeing journalists and their sources legally intimated or worse under the guise of national security.

This includes hacking into the computers of major news centers including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Fox News and the Associated Press, reportedly by a branch of the U.S. government.

The goal was to find out the sources of news stories, the whistleblowers or leakers. The distinction between the two is being intentionally and legally blurred. (One is supposedly protected, the other can land you in jail.)

Do journalists make mistakes in reporting some stories? Definitely -- especially in the highly competitive, "first with the news," atmosphere that's tied to ratings and profits.

At the same time, social networking is quick to point out mistakes. A reporter who regularly gets facts wrong has a limited future with any respectable news agency.

Unfortunately, there are many that are less than respectable -- those which put ratings and profit ahead of truth.

During the 2013 election we saw news sources featuring information that was intentionally designed to be false.

When these errors were pointed out there was reluctance to make corrections because it was known that many viewers preferred fiction that supported personal biases over less appealing facts. The often-used phrase, "Don't confuse me with the facts, I've got my mind made up," seemed particularly appropriate.

In some cases it was found that voting decisions in the 2016 election were based on this patently false information.

We also know that the Soviet Union generated some of this false information in an attempt to sway the US election toward a victory for President Trump.


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