Fox News. CNN. MSNBC.
They and others all flood our social media feeds, pushing story after story in real time. As a business model, it’s a great idea; always have content readily available and updated by the second, but as far as journalism goes, it is lackluster at best.
During the Vietnam War, American families tuned in as Walter Cronkite read the news to the nation. He would sit at his desk and read facts: how many soldiers died, what was happening at home with the anti-war movement, how far our troops had advanced. You could practically smell the napalm coming out of the television screen.
In the early-1970s, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein covered the Watergate scandal and followed the money, as instructed by their contact, Deep Throat. Through tireless investigative effort, they discovered and broke the story that led to Nixon’s resignation. The embarrassment of the nation uncovered by Woodward and Bernstein was felt by us all.
Those days are gone.
Now, cable news networks air all day, every day, spending more time worrying about ratings than the quality of content. It’s understandable for these networks to be so concerned with ratings, seeing as how that’s where their revenue stems, but putting the quality of content on the backburner is detrimental to journalism.
Real journalism is unbiased, non-partisan, and reports on the facts. Thanks to these continuous programs, news has drifted from information to entertainment.
There are not enough events to cover to justify an actual 24-hour news network. Stations will run the same few “breaking” news (I use the word “breaking” lightly because it seems like every story is breaking news) stories on repeat, adding panel discussions and talking heads of opposing views. The guests yell at each other while the host moderates terribly, and both sides come away thinking they are right because they were loud. THAT’S NOT JOURNALISM.
Journalism is not picking sides. Call me a purist, but journalism is not entertainment to a degree. When reporting on healthcare, it is not the time to build your broadcast around ratings when millions of Americans tune in to find out what is happening with their insurance coverage. When covering active shooter situations, it is not the time to speculate casualties, motives, or anything else.
Quality, real journalists are out there, and they don’t work for CNN, they don’t work for Fox, and they don’t work for MSNBC or any other non-stop broadcast of garbage. They are the reporters for newspapers and online publications.
I just so happen to be a print-journalism loyalist, and I believe that the best journalists in the country are those writing for small-town newspapers.
Print journalism will never die. It’s been said for years that print journalism was dying, but here we are, with the New York Times having the most subscribers in its history. Print won’t die, but true journalists are becoming more obscure, being overshadowed by the entertainers. These entertainers have their stage set and heir audience primed to eat out of the palm of their hand. Our news isn’t fake, but our television-personality journalists are.
Subscribe to a real publication. Promote real journalism.