“I don’t watch the news anymore.” A good friend of mind made this statement recently at a dinner party and his words were echoed by many around the table. In fact, more than half of the people there made the same declaration. So what’s going on?
Of course, this dinner party was not the first time I’ve heard people say they no longer watch the news — I hear that quite often these days. Interestingly, others around the table said they also don’t read the news online any longer and have turned once again to the good ole’ newspaper and surprisingly, the radio.
What does it all mean? Are the cable and network TV news programs finished? Doubtful, but something is definitely happening. Curious about this phenomenon, I took to Google to find out more and read one article of particular interest — “Hate the news? Blame TV,” by Jack Lule, summed it up nicely.
In essence, Mr. Lule, calling upon and quoting Neil Postman’s book, “Amusing Ourselves to Death,” correctly calls into light the detrimental impact that TV, both cable and broadcast, has had on true, reliable journalism.
“In that 1985 book, Postman excoriated the American cultural transition from a print-based public discourse to one based on television, and predicted dire consequences for our political life in an “Age of Show Business.”
Sure, TV is cool — the technological aspect is amazing and the entertainment possibilities seem endless. But alas, TV has been in many ways, corrupted. When the guests at the dinner party said they stopped watching the news, most also added “but I’ve basically gotten rid of traditional TV and now stream everything.” So not only have they stopped watching the news, they’ve also pretty much ditched TV as we’ve known it for the last 60+ years.
“…“there is no subject of public interest — politics, news, education, religion, science, sports — that does not find its way to television. Which means that all public understanding of these subjects is shaped by the biases of television.”… – Hate the news? Blame TV
In his article, Jack Lule asks “Did decades of television news bring us to our current, degraded public discourse?” I have to say that in many ways, yes it did. TV has been corrupted by greed — the people who create and air TV shows, movies, documentaries and the news, have put profit ahead of everything else. Quality programming has virtually disappeared. TV is filled with grotesque violence, gratuitous sex, vulgarity and debauchery — it quite literally has become a vast wasteland of trash. Sure, there are still some quality programs, but when once they were the norm, those are now the very rare exception.
As for the “news,” how can anyone trust what we’re being told when it’s become one big entertainment show devoid of true journalism? The news itself is bad enough, but I believe people are tuning out because they’ve lost faith in well founded, genuine news.
“…He argues that television news’ substitution of entertainment for information will have grave import, eventually eroding our very conception of reality and truth. He says, “We have so thoroughly accepted its definitions of truth, knowledge, and reality that irrelevance seems to us to be filled with import, and incoherence seems eminently sane.”…
“…There is no murder so brutal, no earthquake so devastating, no political blunder so costly — for that matter, no ball score so tantalizing or weather report so threatening — that it cannot be erased from our minds by a newscaster saying, ‘Now . . . this.”…” – Hate the news? Blame TV
I really appreciate Jack Lule’s article and I highly recommend you read it in its entirety.
Now, back to the folks at the dinner party. So not only are people watching the news less, but they’re ditching traditional television and opting for streaming services that they feel put them more in control. I applaud this move. TV news seems manufactured these days — and I don’t mean as in “fake news.” I mean as in it’s been bundled up, stripped down, tweaked and modified to such an extent, that what we get is…well, I’m not quite sure actually. I guess maybe we’re getting some truth? The question is, whose truth?
So bury our head in the sand?
Obviously, we need to be informed. It’s vital that we know what’s happening in the world, because the only way to live a truly positive life, is to confront and challenge negativity — we can’t simply pretend that everything is okay. But we have choices and those choices can empower us. Watching the news on TV is fine, as long as we recognize that there may be more to the story — more fact and truth. Given our options, we can read newspapers, listen to the news on the radio or read it online. The important thing is to look at more than just one source and to verify a story before we come to a conclusion based on what we’re being spoon fed by one TV “news” show.
“I strongly believe that informed, educated citizens (who would never dream of asking others to do their thinking for them) are nation-builders.” ―