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Posts Tagged ‘CNN’

It has been happening slowly, almost imperceptibly, like the Titanic trying to turn away from an iceberg in its path.  The casual observer might not have noticed any change, but upon closer inspection you notice that something somehow has changed.  Remember when CNN was a news organization?  Remember when they reported what happened both in the U.S. and around the world and they were satisfied with doing that – sort of an American BBC?  Now they have morphed into a semi-entertainment show.  They’ve gone all a-twitter.  People can interact with them in real time via social networking websites.  Both Joe Redneck and Joe College can have their thoughts read aloud now on CNN news- as if their thoughts were representative of anything other than their own private musings.

But another, more insidious change has taken place in Atlanta.  CNN has developed a taste for provocative news, news that will get you excited, news that will keep you watching and keep you listening – because after all, they are a commercial enterprise and sponsors pay for ratings and ratings come from numbers of watching heads.  Plain old facts don’t give them the kick they need anymore. People listen and watch plain old facts for half an hour, understand what is happening in the world today, and then turn off the TV and go about their lives.  Not a profitable business model.  It appears that CNN has taken a glance at the FOX News business model and said, “Hmmm, we need to learn from these geniuses.  We need to get more into the news entertainment business.  Leave the straight factual reporting to the Brits.”

On today’s morning news on CNN it was reported that a government health plan could eventually result in rationing health care because the government would have no other way of controlling costs.  Que visions in people’s minds of someone pulling the plug on Grandma.  CNN reported that this conclusion had been reached by the Cato Institute, which had done a study of government health care.  CNN went on to say that the Cato Institute is a Libertarian organization.  (For those unfamiliar with Libertarian philosophy, it doesn’t mean the same thing as Liberal – as in left-wing Democrats.  Libertarians are fundamentally opposed to government in general and believe that the less government we have the better off everyone is.)  I guess CNN couldn’t find the time to fit in a brief explanation of Libertarian views, so that explanation was rationed out of the news.  The innocent listener was left thinking that government health care must be bad with all the rationing they’ll be doing.  Apparently CNN was short on time and couldn’t fit in an explanation that commercial health insurance companies, hospitals, dentists, dental insurance companies, and basically the entire U.S. health industry currently rations health care. So CNN rationed that out too.

“What?” you say.  “I don’t want anyone rationing my health care!” Neither do I, but it’s a fact of life.  Take a look at your insurance policy and see what’s covered and what’s not covered.  Look at the limits of your coverage for certain procedures.  Look at what is excluded.  Same with your dental plan.  Let’s say you needed a heart transplant.  Could you get one tomorrow?  No. You would be placed on a waiting list.  How about a new liver or kidney? Same thing.  How about just a routine operation to repair a problem with your back?  Ummm, let’s see, OK we have an opening in six weeks on Thursday.  Can you come in then? – Isn’t this all rationing? Of course. Our health care system doesn’t have infinite capacity. Our health care insurers don’t have infinite funds. There are limits on what you will get right now.  A government plan would be no different – only an idiot would believe otherwise.  In the real world their are limits to everything; unfortunately, CNN chose not to explain that and went ahead with the “rationing” story without further explanation, thereby conjuring up, once again, images of poor old, expendable, grandma having the plug pulled on her.

This isn’t news.  This is beyond news.  This is yelling “FIRE” in a crowded theater.  It is irresponsible journalism, a failure to report the truth by omitting facts.  This is deliberate stirring up misunderstandings and debate among ill-informed citizens all for the sake of an audience who will keep listening to learn more dire “facts” about what could go wrong if the government begins to provide health care for large numbers of Americans.  This is not helping.  Only the truth helps and this isn’t it.

CNN, you have crossed the line.  You have now entered the twilight world of Fox News, a world of half truths and innuendo, a world where not everything is at it seems. I suppose it could only happen on a television set.  CNN has  entered the Twilight Zone.

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Is it me?  Has anyone else noticed a gradual degradation in U.S. television news over the years?  Maybe it’s my imagination, but I seem to recall that when CNN started out with their continuous news coverage channel they really had lots of news to report. Didn’t they used to have reporters all around the world, from Tokyo to Sydney to Rio de Janeiro, sending in reports of the latest news from even the remotest parts of the planet? Now, if you watch CNN, you seldom see a report from one of their reporters from some exotic locale.  When was the last time we had a CNN report from Mumbai or Shanghai?  How about Brussels or Manila?  What about Auckland or Toronto? Doesn’t news happen in those places anymore?

I suppose budgets being what they are, the news people have had to cut back on their major expenses – you know things like covering the news.  Today, if you turn on CNN you have a 50/50 chance at best of getting coverage of a news event. You are just as likely (if not more likely) of getting one of their staff “experts” commenting on the economy and what you should do with your money or another CNN “expert” commenting on politics and whether Barack Obama has a chance of being reelected in 2012. This is news?

Lest it appear that this is an anti-CNN rant only, let me assure you that I find Fox News equally, if not more so, vapid.  Besides Fax’s vapidity, I find I also have to contend with what seems to be a slight right-wing spin on their reporting. Has anyone else noticed that? I have to wonder if they are trying to influence my opinion rather than just reporting the news as it happens.  The result is that I seldom watch Fox. It’s just my opinion, but they seem to be just a little too, how shall I say it? Foxy. Yes, that’s it, a little too foxy.

It seems that the old, established networks like NBC, CBS, and ABC still put together a nightly version of the news that is fairly straightforward. However, I still feel they are provincial, if not myopic, in their coverage of important news in the today’s world.  There is still a great emphasis on happenings in the U.S.  Perhaps too much.  Remember the global economy?  Remember multinational corporations? Remember the United Nations? The world today is not the same world we had  twenty or thirty years ago.  Everything is interconnected and whenever we pull on a string here, or someone on the other side of the world pulls a string there, the effects are felt everywhere.  We are caught up in a giant web of interconnectedness. The world economic collapse is a very good, but not the only, example of this. So shouldn’t we have news reported to us that is much more global in scale? Don’t the U.S. news organizations realize that the world really is round and that as a result something very important is happening somewhere in the world 24 hours a day?  So why don’t they tell us about it instead of inundating us with hour upon hour of vapid opinions by their staff commentators? Could it be because they are running low budget operations and can’t actually afford to cover the world news as they should?  I don’t know.  Maybe.

But, just for the sake of comparison, take a look at how other countries cover the news on television. Check out how the news is covered in England on the BBC. This is their website, of course, but their televised news is similar.  You can even see it in many parts of the U.S. on your local PBS network.  Their coverage of the world is infinitely superior to the U.S. news media. Of course the BBC is well known for that, but they are not alone in this regard. Check out Radio Telefis Eireann in Ireland at this link. Once again, it’s a website, but their broadcast world news is very complete also.

But wait!  There’s more.  The Germans, perhaps not as famous for their world news coverage, also do a very good job of providing real information via their Deutche Welle broadcast.  This is also available in parts of the U.S. via the Public Broadcasting Network. The good thing is that the news is broadcast in English so that we monolingual Americans can actually understand what they are saying.  Check out Deutche Welle at this link and see what I mean.  Finally, one of my favorites for keeping up with events of the day throughout the world, is a French (yes, French – I know) network news program called France 24. Their website is worth looking at and so is their broadcast. Although I have yet to find it in the U.S., even on PBS, I am hopeful that someday it will show up here.  Maybe the answer is the internet.

Which means that I think it’s time our U.S. news media took a look around at the competition.  With the advances in broadband and the capability to view television programs on the internet, it may not be too long before we will be able to watch internet-based news broadcasts from around the world,  maybe even on our own television sets.  It seems clear to me that these two media are bound to merge in the not too distant future. When that happens CNN, FOX, NBC, ABC, CBS, and the other U.S. news media will find they are competing directly for audience share with the BBC, RTE, Deutche Welle, France 24, and many, many more.  I don’t think our news networks realize this, and because they don’t, they may find themselves in the not too distant future going the way of a few other U.S companies that ignored their foreign competition for far too long, companies like GM, Chrysler, and Ford.

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