Friday, January 27, 2006

A Little Truth in the Media

Aaron Brown, a former CNN anchor, had a few choice words to say about the state of cable news. Read the article in full here.

Some quotes:

"Truth no longer matters in the context of politics and, sadly, in the context of cable news."

"Television is the most perfect democracy," Brown said. "You sit there with your remote control and vote." The remotes click to another channel when serious news airs, but when the media covers the scandals surrounding Laci Peterson, the Runaway Bride or Michael Jackson, "there are no clicks then," the journalist said.

With the departure from the screen of the "titans" — Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings and Dan Rather — who "resisted the temptations of their bosses to go for the ratings grab, it will be years before an anchorman or anchorwoman will have the clout to fight these battles," he said.

Journalists have fallen short in presenting important news in ways that allow viewers to see how it matters in their lives. But viewers must take up the battle as well, he said. "It's not enough to say you want serious news. You have to watch it. It isn't enough to say you want serious debate. You have to engage in it."

I was very sad when I learned his show was being replaced by Anderson Cooper. Don't get me wrong, I like Anderson Cooper - he has quite the following too - but Anderson Cooper is no Aaron Brown, at least when it comes to delivering real, hard news.


joe schlieff said...

I think the media isn't so much lying to the American people as much as it is omitting facts.

This is just me speculating, but its a ratings thing. CNN has a largley liberal fanbase, so they market twords them..bear with me have a stronger watcher retention, they tell people what they want to hear. People who watch CNN don't want to hear that closing the borders would help stop drugs from coming into the US, they want to hear the Bush isn't doing enough. They don't want to hear that, and this is a fact, that more white people died than black people from Katrina, they want to hear that George Bush is racist.

I think this is essentially what is happening. A lack of truth, because Americans are becoming apathetic twords the truth. We're so eager to have our opinions of our leaders reassured, whether good or bad, we watch stations that purposly tell us what we want to hear. Americans hate to be wrong, so we won't expose ourselves to something that could prove us incorrect. It's a pride thing.

Pride is one of the seven deadly sins. CNN wouldn't tell you that though =) har har har

Ryan Adams said...

Honestly Joe, there have been a multitude of surveys over this... CNN has more ideologically conservative guests than liberals and isn't really a "liberal" network. If anything, I dislike CNN more than Fox News because - despite the slogans - Fox News doesn't really try to hide the fact that it is heavily bent towards the right. I wouldn't call CNN "heavily" bent toward the right, but the very fact that most of their guests are from the right wing indicates that there exists some ideological bend.

Don't get me wrong, I think CNN would prefer to lean left and in years past it certainly did, but in the wake of Fox News, CNN and MSNBC have both bent much more to the right to try to hold onto ratings.

As far as immigration is concerned, it's one of the RARE issues that you can't really draw a line and call a position either liberal or conservative. The fact of the matter is a lot of conservatives are very pro-immigration and likely almost as many liberals are anti-immigration as there are conservatives. The real reason there has been little done on the front of immigration reform is that neither Democrats nor Republicans want to touch the issue. Both parties stand to lose if they do so - Unions are heavily bent against immigration for obvious reasons, yet market forces make immigration (even illegal immigration) very profitable for corporate power and small business owners. It's a strange and very interesting issue.

However, I agree with the assertion that watching TV News (at least as the primary means to stay informed) is a very dangerous thing. That's why I rarely do it. I really only mentioned this particular case because he was one of the few anchors on TV who used mostly hard news and was let go in great part because of it.

I really don't think that Americans are apethetic towards the truth though. I think it's that after working hard all day, people would rather the fluff news than something they really have to pay attention to. How do you go about fixing that? Honestly, I don't think anyone really can at this point in time. Maybe new technology will make hard news more entertaining in the future, or networks will be able to better market it. I don't know though, it isn't my field of expertise... and hard news is the only news I find interesting, so I'm very biased.

joe said...

Fluff news is so the best way to put it. It's like our obession with the lives of celebrities. Americans are more apt to say "oh I feel so bad for Jennifer Aniston. Brad Pitt is such as asshole." rather than "oh those poor Somalians. They have no food."

Americans work. A lot. We don't have 30 hour work week limits like in Germany, so I guess mabye if you work a 70 hour week you're entitled to all the fluff you want hahah

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