The Media

Somewhere in the last few years, we have confused “The News” and “News Commentary.”  Glen Beck and Rachel Maddow are not news broadcasters; they are political commentators.  It used to be that when we watched the news, we learned facts about events.  Now, we learn people’s opinions about facts about events, and confuse them with facts about events, because they are misconstrued as news.

All media claim to be unbiased.  I’m fairly confident that any newscaster that admitted that they were reporting a skewed view of the news (apart from those on Comedy Central) would immediately lose their credibility, ratings, and eventually their time slot.  Honestly, the only political commentary I watch at this point is on Comedy Central because at least then I know that it is intentionally absurd.

Now I’m not 100% sure how BBC works, but from what I understand it is a government operated network that is required to remain non-partisan and non-opinionated.  I frequently visit bbc.com to get that kind of news when I can’t find it on U.S. news sites.  Imagine what would be different if everyone in the U.S. watched BBC news instead of Fox Political commentary- there never would have been a mass panic over “death panels” during the health care debate.  The “Ground Zero Mosque” wouldn’t have taken over the summer, because it would have been reported as an “Islamic education and community center located 2 blocks from Ground Zero in an old Burlington Coat Factory building.”  The “Birther” movement wouldn’t have ever gained traction, there wouldn’t be a growing intolerance of immigrants.

People that preach hatred and fear mongering could still have a platform, but it would be titled as such.  “Fox Political Commentary: Hear Conservatives Viewpoints Based on Opinion, not Fact.”  I suppose MSNBC would need a similar byline as well- “Rachel Maddow: For a somewhat more responsible (but very liberal) collection of sound bites.”

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One Response to The Media

  1. CMS says:

    I have friends who depend on The Daily Show to both tell them today’s headlines as well as call out the errors of other news sources, not just for comic relief, but in order to decipher the facts from the bias. As for myself, I have to admit it was all I could to to stop myself from shouting “I love the BBC!” in the middle of our class discussion on left- or right-leaning news programs, and their ability to persuade people to one view, or at least inhibit the creation of new ideas. It is hard to find news without bias. I like reading the BBC because it is facts of a breaking news story, leaving me to decide how I feel or how to react to an issue. And linking back to the concept of media literacy, I think that one way to really overcome the “consolidation effect” that the media giants have created is to first gather all the facts, and then form your own opinions. This way you are truly contemplating and questioning what you hear, instead of being force-fed (or, some may opt for) sound bites from political pundits. But, the issue with (the lack of) media literacy is people don’t realize what they are consuming is biased. Perhaps one solution is to have media based on opinion labeled as such — although I’m not sure big business would be thrilled by this concept.

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