Monday, July 03, 2017

The downward trend of media and politics in the US

(note: this isn't a post supporting Trump or the media - this is just a commentary on the sad state of affairs in the US. Politics in the US have been on a downward trend for years, now it appears the media is catching up.)

If the media wants to people to stop using it as a punching bag, literally, they should stop making off-side comments during REGULAR broadcasts.

There are shows that are "pundit" shows - those that are produced to be inflammatory and instigate discussion. These are the shows that everyone expects to be aggressive. This was the entire creation myth for the Fox News networks. But that isn't the purpose of a "news network", is it? Because if it is, then they've gone beyond being a news network and become an "opinion network". Yes, they may have independence but they don't have impartiality and I believe that is the issue. MSNBC started as a news network and are now, by their own admission, a left-leaning version of Fox. They have some right-wing opinion and maybe some impartial coverage on their schedule but generally, they publicize themselves as a left-leaning network.

When a newspaper like the Daily News or Daily Mirror prints a salacious cover, everyone takes a laugh and then moves on.

However, when you have hosts from actual NEWS shows making personal comments as an add-on to their news coverage, commenting on the story, then you've opened the door to this debasement of the media as was seen over the July 1st weekend in the US.

There is always a time for the media to make their own commentary but when reporting the news is not that time. In the past several years, the US media has become increasingly partisan, even on networks such as CNN. This is due to their introduction of hosts and shows geared towards attracting viewers rather than the reporting news. When your network content becomes more about espousing opinions than news, then you can no longer be described as a news network and shouldn't try to.

Consider the networks in countries such as Canada (CTV News) and Britain (BBC). One could even consider the "Big three" networks in the US. At one point in time, you could never determine the political affiliation of a network because their hosts were always independent or at the very least, impartial.

You can't say "We'll keep reporting the news regardless of the stupid things you do" and then say you're impartial because you've effectively given an opinion. If you want to be impartial, then say "We report the news". Opinion should be left for the pundits but when your network is made up primarily of pundits OR when your hosts start making "punditesque" comments, then you've effectively become your own op-ed. Today, even the big three networks have started doing that.

Imagine if the weather network reporters peppered their broadcasts with "because we've been using too much plastic" or "because of the all pizza boxes that were thrown out", when reporting on warmer temperatures. What would the reaction be? I get opinion - I like opinion - but not in my regular news.

Just as Fox can't hide behind the mantle of free and impartial press, neither can other networks if they continue the downward trend they are on. The place for commentary is on comedy or opinion shows, not the news. Even if a network was able to show itself as a melting pot of opinion, such as the PBS opinion or the Crossfire shows of old, that would be a fresh breath compared to what you've got now.

Does that mean they shouldn't defend themselves? If you have hosts that act exasperated by the actions of anyone, you are now reporting opinion, not fact. The point is that they should have nothing to defend beyond their reporting of the facts. Right now, there is no network that can say they do that, with impartiality.

Just as a single opinion show does not a biased media make, a single impartial story does not a news network make. Adding commentary to news slants the story, regardless of the impetus.