Posts Tagged ‘FOX’

In 1791 the first amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted.  It was part of the Bill of Rights and it was created out of a concern that the Constitution, as written, gave too much authority to the Federal government. This amendment placed limits on what the government could do. Among other things, the First Amendment stated that Congress could not make any law that limited the freedom of speech. The founders of the country knew from their own experience that one of the ways that a government could exert too much control and influence over the people was by controlling the information they received.  If the government could prevent or limit the dissemination of the truth then it had a clear advantage in maintaining power.

Some, actually many, modern but repressive governments in other countries have used this method to keep their hold on power.  Some have gone even further and besides restricting what people could say, they also disseminated false or misleading information to their citizens in order to keep control of the populace.  In recent history, the Tass News Agency of the old Soviet Union was famous for this sort of propaganda.  Tass continues today in Russia but it appears to have changed it ways quite a bit, if not completely.

In the Western world we have prided ourselves not only on the accuracy of our news but also on its fairness of reporting.  We have also been proud of the separation of the press from the government.  Today some notable examples of matter-of-fact reporting of the world news can be found in England’s BBC, Germany’s Deutche Welle, and Ireland’s Radio Telefis Eireann (RTE).  If you click on any of these links you will find news that is of interest to the inhabitants of those countries reported in a straightforward way, i.e this is what happened and when and who was involved. Just the facts.

The U.S., long a bastion of free speech and straightforward news reporting has been going through a change in direction. Just look at any of the major news networks: ABC news, NBC news, CBS news, or Fox news.  Notice anything different compared to the European news or even the Russian news?  It is the inclusion of things like polls on the front page, it is the reporting of an event with an interpretation of that event in the same sentence, it is the emphasis on sensational news like grisly murders and so forth, and it is the insertion of politics into so many of the stories that are reported.  Why?  Why the morphing from solid, straight-talking news articles to a more tabloid, emotionally targeted news? Is it because that is what the public wants?  Is it because that is what sells?  Or is it something else?

It is no secret that there are news empires in this country.  Imagine the power a single person could have if they owned the radio, television, and newspaper industries!  They could feed the public whatever they wanted, deciding what they wanted the people to know and what they didn’t want them to know.  Sort of like the old Soviet Tass News Agency.  The question is this: are we evolving, or have we already evolved – one step at a time – to a system of news dissemination where the news we receive is the news someone wants us to receive in order to promote a hidden agenda?  Could it be that some news is omitted because it would contradict a hidden agenda?  Could it be that much of our news is broadcast primarily to push forward a hidden agenda?

What about the role of opinion in the news?  Doesn’t it seem that the opinion of news reporters is blending more and more smoothly into the news itself?  It seems that the demarcation line between actual news and opinions about the news has been blurred or, in some cases, completely erased. And in those cases where it has been completely erased the opinions often seem to come from the lunatic fringe, but they are presented with a straight-face as if they were actual news instead of the garbled meanderings of Neanderthal minds.

The question we need to ask is this: how much of this new “news” that enters our homes these days via television, radio, internet, and newspaper is actually valid news and how much is propaganda?  And if it is propaganda who is creating it and spreading it and why?  Here’s a question to consider: have you ever tried to buy a television station or a newspaper?  Probably not.  They cost a lot of money. Your average person couldn’t possibly afford to buy one, let alone a whole bunch of them.  But some people can: really, really, wealthy people.  But why?  Why would someone invest all that money in these industries when there is so much more money to be made in investing in banks and insurance companies?  Could it be because these industries allow the wealthy to shape and control public opinion?  And if you can control public opinion it isn’t a far leap to controlling election results is it? And once you control the results of an election, could it be that you have also earned a hidden voice in the government itself?

Could it?

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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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