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We were examination the TV at the airline depart area.
“Is it a militant incident?” Wolf Blitzer asked. Nobody knows, was the apparent answer.
“Something’s happened to the news,” a lady around my age at the DC airport, pronounced to Louise and me. “I don’t know what it is, but we used to actually know a lot of fact about a lot of things going on, 30 years ago, and now it seems like all the media does is concentration on one or two stories all day prolonged and we feel like I’m uninformed.”
“Like eating junk food?” we said.
“Yeah, exactly. Empty calories. Why doesn’t the news give me the news?”
Louise and we were sitting in front of a TV examination CNN, which was doing hour-long (perhaps day-long?) coverage of a probable militant occurrence in London (turned out it was a traffic accident). Louise shook her head. “Now you’ve got him started,” she said.
The woman, an employee of the airline, looked interested.
“Used to be,” we said, “that radio and TV stations had to broach tangible news in sequence to keep their over-the-air promote license. It was called ‘the integrity doctrine,’ and Reagan stopped enforcing it in ’87 and the Obama administration’s FCC private it altogether. Then the media combined like crazy, in partial given Reagan had stopped enforcing the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and no boss given Jimmy Carter pennyless up ATT has been peaceful to put it back into effect, and in partial given of the media deregulation that Clinton sealed in 1996.”
“So?” she asked. “Why does that meant that all we get now is nonstop hype and opinion-drivel?”
“It used to be that the metric news organizations used to establish if they were ‘doing their job’ was how good the American open was informed. That was actually a critical metric, pre-1987, given your station’s permit depended on it. The open could – and did – complain that they weren’t being well-informed, and stations jumped when those FCC complaints came in. But now, the only metric the ‘news’ business uses is how many viewers they have and, thus, how essential they are for advertisers.”
“But since does that meant all we get are the disasters and the dramas of Donald Trump and other crap like that?” She’d stretched her star of media complaints.
I remembered a doctrine that Bob Brakeman, the news executive at WITL-AM/FM in Lansing, Michigan, where we used to work in the 1970s as a kick contributor and studio news presenter, taught me.
“When you’re selecting what goes into your newscast, remember that there are 3 buckets of news,” Bob, one of the best news guys we ever worked for, pronounced (as best we can remember). “First, there are the facts: who, what, where, when, why, and how. Second is drama: who is harm or hurting, who is angry, who is happy, who is trying to do what to whom. And the third is sports: who is winning and who is losing.”
“Got that,” we said. “So how do we establish what goes into a story?”
“The contribution are the many important,” Bob said. “The play and sports, unless they’re at the core of the story itself, just supplement to the seductiveness interest of the story. The play could be interviewing a family who just lost their home to a tornado, or the sports could be who’s approaching to win or remove an election. But both should always be subordinate to the facts.”
I explained this to the new crony in her airline uniform. “Okay,” she said. “What happened to the facts?”
“Advertising,” we said. “I remember pushing down the autobahn in Germany in 1987 listening to American Forces Radio when the contributor announced that, given of Reagan’s change in the Fairness Doctrine, CBS had changed their news multiplication under the organisation of their party division, and the other networks were approaching to shortly follow. So, now, networks don’t give a damn at all about ‘the facts’ or ‘what Americans need to know’ to be sensitive and active citizens. They only caring about what’s going to get the many eyeballs. And that will always first be play and sports.”
“This is since we have Trump,” Louise added. “As a reality TV-show star, he’s an consultant at delivering what Bob called ‘drama’ and ‘sports’ to the TV news networks. Who’s in, who’s out; who’s ahead, who’s behind. The media desired it, and gave him $2 billion in free TV time, while making billions themselves in promotion given he increasing their ratings. Les Moonves, the conduct of CBS, actually bragged about how much income they were making by hyper-covering Trump in a stockholder phone call.”
“The normal American has no suggestive bargain of what’s happening anywhere else in the world,” we said, “nor do they comprehend what’s being finished right now in front of us by the EPA, Interior, and other supervision agencies that are holding detached over 70 years of work to purify up the universe and build a center class.”
“I’ve beheld this on NPR,” the airline lady said. “I used to adore listening to their in-depth reporting, and quite their inquisitive reporting. But now I’m conference some-more and some-more spin from think-tanks, and reduction and reduction about the sum of legislation and news.”
“In 1996, NPR busted Archer Daniels Midland for a outrageous fraud,” we said. “But the Republicans have now cut their appropriation so badly that today, with only 7 percent of their bill coming from the government, that they no longer take on corporate malfeasance, but instead desire for corporate income with good enthusiasm. They even publish lists of who’s paying, some would say, to change their broadcasting.”
“Same as corporate news?”
“Pretty much. Seen or listened ads for oil and healthy gas companies? Defense contractors? You wish to buy an oil good or a F-35? Unlikely. But they wish that income delivered to the networks, so they won’t do any arrange of inquisitive stating on the hoary fuel or invulnerability industries. Or pharma. Everybody’s metric today is clicks or viewers that can be delivered to advertisers for money. Nobody much cares about either the American people are sensitive adequate to make an intelligent vote.”
“So, where do we get genuine news?” the new crony asked.
“My answer a few weeks ago would have been to demeanour on the internet, but Google and Facebook have so sealed down what news sources are allowed to get by their search/sort algorithms that it’s tough to get anything that’s not ‘corporate-friendly news.’”
“I suspicion the internet was neutral,” she said.
“The internet isn’t neutral any more,” I said, “because of these corporate behemoths. And it’s going to get a lot worse when Ajit Pai and his FCC confirm that your internet service provider – the company that brings internet into your home – can confirm to retard or delayed down sites they don’t determine with…and all of today’s successful ISPs are large, politically active, ‘conservative’ corporations.”
I added: “When the only metric is profit, all can be explained by profit. And distinction doesn’t give a damn about probity or democracy or you or me or even the future of the republic or world. It’s radically a sociopathic business model, which works out really good for sociopathic politicians and the sociopathic polluters who own them – and the media they intemperate billions onto.”
“What do we do?” she said.
“End Reaganism,” we said. “Start enforcing the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, mangle up the big media, put back into place internal media tenure rules, and have Congress contend categorically that the Net Neutrality that’s the law in every other courteous country on earth should also be the law here.”
“And how do we do that?” she aske.
“Get politically active. Only people energy can better the gentlefolk that’s seized the nation.”
She shook her conduct skeptically. “I’ve gotta get back to work.”
We left to house the flight.
Thom Hartmann is a talk-show horde and author of over 25 books in print.