Is there bias? Absolutely. It doesn’t take a person with a college degree in journalism to see how unbalanced news stories can be, or how news networks and newspapers focus more attention to certain stories over others, or why certain news organizations lean a certain way. Heck, even the stories the news media leads with, and the time allotted, can be perceived as biased.
Now here’s the rub, you like it. For all the bitching and complaining that folks do, calling the news media biased, they never look at their own choice of viewing pleasure as anything but unbiased. It’s hypocritical. People want to watch what they like, what is aligned with their own morals and values, their principles, their experiences. Damn those that think we are wrong! Even though deep inside we know what we are viewing/reading/listening to doesn’t always jive well. As long as it feels good. Ahhhh…
News organizations have turned news programs into shows. Sensationalism and confrontation sells. They give the illusion that they are balanced by putting on pundits, contributors and analysts (some paid, some not) from “each side.” They have few real journalists, mostly stars (columnists/opinionators) who are given a higher platform (anchor) to spew their agenda. News networks even allow the use of real journalists to help set up topics on “opinion” shows to give the illusion of being “less” opinionated and more newsy. And the truth about pundits and paid contributors is that we already know what they are going to say. They never compromise, even when facts smack them in the face, hence the discourse. Crazy.
But why? It wasn’t always like this, was it?
Here’s the thing: The news industry became giant news organizations that turned the news industry into a business which ultimately led to the news brand. Brands are all about making money. News networks have become a BRAND. And money controls all. Therefore the lines between what is entertainment and what is news is beyond blurred, it has been destroyed.
This is not a slight on the hardworking real journalists I know. All networks and newspapers have them. This is an observation on what media companies have done to journalism in this country. As a matter-of-fact, many folks I know and worked with are excellent, hard-hitting journalists that write balanced and compelling stories. These journalists are the ones media companies hang their hat upon in order to justify calling themselves a “news network.” But there are so few. The resources to allow these journalists to really investigate is minimal. And the acceptance of a network to allow a journalist to go against the brand, well….. Journalists are becoming an endangered species. If they go, so does journalism. And if journalism dies, shame on us.
Why don’t we demand better?
I firmly believe it’s because we don’t engage with each other anymore beyond the smartphone. We are not as well read. Instead, we’d rather have somebody else spoon feed us the information (just make sure to keep it under a minute). We are quick to comment without even reading the article, basing our assumptions on headlines only. We are less willing to be open to opposing views. Worse, we don’t compromise anymore.
Are we doomed? No. We got here because over time we allowed it to happen. How do we change? Put down the smartphone, seek out real journalists, read transcripts, turn off sensationalistic dribble, go against your inner angst and LISTEN to opposing views, find similarities and learn to compromise with each other.
Bernie Pigott is a Speaker and Consultant in the areas of Leadership, Media and Crisis Communications. “I work with organizations that want to develop top-notch leaders that will maximize performance, productivity and profits.”
Follow: @theBerniePigott Website: BerniePigott.com