Rethinking Our Earlier
TV news used to be about serving
the public's interest. Now it's about
serving corporate interests.
I was in broadcast news there was largely a
"hands off" attitude on the content of TV
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
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
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
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.
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
It isn't hard to do and it's
popular with large sections of their audience.
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.
are also seeing journalists and their sources
legally intimated or worse under the guise of
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
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