Don’t Blame The Media. : ThyBlackMan

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Don’t Blame The Media.

October 25, 2017 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Politics, Weekly Columns

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( The notion that the media, writ large, was responsible for the election of Donald Trump has been repeated so often on television and in the blogosphere that it’s become an unquestionable fact. This idea isn’t just false it’s destructive. Ten months and five days into the Trump administration print journalist continue to point out the president’s almost daily battles with the truth. Print journalists have been screaming from the mountain tops, but their cries continue falling on deaf ears. The media didn’t fail America. The way we undervalue literacy and critical thinking failed us.

Most of the criticisms levelled at the media are based on the spectacle we see on television. Too many national and local news broadcasts have emulated the pugilistic debate style cable news turned into ratings gold. Meta-critical analysis of complex issues has been replaced with ad hominem attacks. Even a person committed to being proactive and engaging the media is often under informed due to the current trends in television news production.

The sheer amount of information aggregated and disseminated by print journalists is amazing when you consider the massive budget cuts many newspapers and magazines have endured over the last decade. In spite of all of the barriers and limitations placed in front of them print journalist continue investigating and writing about the important stories that affect us.

Many of Donald Trump‘s incessant lies are about mundane topics that don’t affect the average person, but this doesn’t matter. Television pundits debate these statements as if Donald Trump has some nuanced relationship with hard facts we aren’t privy to. If the president said he invented the stapler 35% of America would either reflexively believe him, or feign ignorance to avoid acknowledging the fact that he has shown all of the symptoms of being a pathological liar. If America wants a more informed electorate we need to change the television model used for disseminating information about our national politics.

A typical thirty-minute local newscast boils down to about twenty-three minutes after commercial advertising commitments are handled. Then, you have to subtract weather, sports and local human-interest stories. After all of this there’s usually less than twelve minutes for hard news. The eleven or twelve minutes dedicated to current events gets further split between national, state and local issues. The portion of the news dedicated to national politics is often presented as theater instead of fact driven analysis of political ideas. If the same thirty minutes were spent reading a local newspaper we would have a much more informed electorate. According to the Nielsen repot, the average American watches television for 35 hours per week. Many of these same people claim they don’t have time to read?

When politicians, government officials, academics or even concerned citizens engage in public discourse their words should be parsed for accuracy. Print journalists and media outlets have an obligation to make sure the information they disseminate is as accurate as possible, but this doesn’t happen enough on television.

No one in print media disputes the fact that two plus two equals four, but cable news could fill the b-block with pundits willing to argue over this. The ratings generated from these sideshows has caused too many news outlets to emulate their success. This has infected the only source of information some Americans receive. This model unsustainable and will continue to erode the lines between fact and fiction.

Staff Writer; Danny Cardwell

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