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Television News: Fact Or Funding

Television News: Fact Or Funding

Most people believe their evening television news program is an accurate description of the world they live in and the occurrences of the day. Unfortunately this is not entirely true. It is impossible for fairness to exist. The news story you are watching may be skewed by the reporters point of view. Also, news broadcasts need to keep their ratings up to justify the expense they impose on the network and their ability to attract advertising dollars to help offset those costs.

Ask yourself this. “What makes this story worth reporting to me for the journalist?” Is it a genuine concern for the issue? Possibly, but more likely than that the journalist was assigned the job of reporting on the story and is there only for that reason. Suppose the reporter chose to report on the story by herself. What is the motivation? Maybe she simply wants to expose the truth, a stronger drive would be the elusive anchor position!

News programs are less concerned with the reality in our world than they are with being able to entertain their viewers. This is why we see stories on the latest big name movie star or politician and the most recent scandal they have gotten themselves into rather than one about the small town boy who saved his baby sister from drowning in a ditch. Now, what if that same baby was lost in the mountains or trapped in a well? Thereby giving the networks enough time to roll in their mobile broadcasting equipment, that would make a newsworthy story. Why is this? Look at the drama involved. Will the baby live through the freezing temperatures tonight? Are the sides of the well going to collapse on her while she is being dug out? Everybody loves drama! Formula: Intense drama = Good ratings = More advertising dollars.

Why is it that we are battered with pictures of Hurricane Frances tearing apart Florida neighborhoods? Thrust into the midst of a car bombing in the Middle East. Smothered with the images of a giant chemical factory in flames, spewing toxic fumes all over Eastern Europe. For the most part, those of us sitting here being bombarded with this “News” will never be affected by these things. Yet night after night we watch these stories in awe. Why is this? Shock value. Who could change the channel while watching someone sift through the wreckage of what was once their home or business? Much less while seeing some child broken and bleeding amidst the destruction imposed by some religious zealot with a bomb. Once again we have a formula: High shock value = Entranced viewers = Higher ratings = Increased advertising dollars.

Unfortunately we, the public, are both the problem and the solution to this onslaught of repetitious violence and destruction. When we sit down to watch the “News” we aren’t necessarily looking to see the news. We are looking to be entertained more than informed. Only when we decide that we have had enough with the shock and awe tactics of modern day journalism and find other mediums to get our news from, thereby decreasing the advertising dollars being spent, will this trend begin to change. Lets leave the entertainment to Hollywood! Personally wouldn’t you rather be informed by the news than left in a state of numbness and disbelief!


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