Over the holidays I dined with the more consternative contingent of my family, and the meal was almost ruined because, just as we were sitting down, someone suddenly started railing on the “negativity” of the media. A likeminded family member then chimed in that the media were “ruining our country.”
I wasn’t sure where this came from, or what it had to do with Happy Holidays dinner, but it served to illustrate a common misconception among consternatives; one from which my own family is sadly not immune. And one which popped up as a result of one of my posts last week.
You see, some people rely upon names like O’Reilly, Hannity and Limbaugh for their “news,” and doing so gets them all hot and bothered about that damned old liberal, negative, divisive media. They fail to understand the difference between color commentary and news, and don’t really grasp the purpose of the news media in general.
They see daily death tolls reported from Iraq, for example, and cite that as an example of media negativity. They don’t see that they’re simply shooting the messenger by thinking that way. They want cheerleaders instead of journalists.
The purpose of the media is not to make anyone smile, or to instill patriotic feelings or reinforce the American message (i.e. act as a propaganda tool of the government), but to convey factual information.
Commentary, which is not necessarily factual, is ok as part of the news, as long as 1) it’s identified as commentary, and 2) any connections or conflicts of interest between the commenter and the topic of discussion are revealed.
To make everyone happy, how about a 24-hour government news channel, right next to other news stations on the dial? It would allow the government to say what they want us to hear, and allow some out there to hear what they want to hear: unabashed good news. Everything’s swell. Nothing to see here. God bless America.
Those of us who want a more objective source for information can simply not watch and seek out the news elsewhere.
Operated completely by government employees, this channel would of course mean we’d have to pay more taxes. But it would also mean more jobs! I am not just talking about mollifying the misinformed here, but also helping the economy, people.
A government-run news channel (like those that already exist in many other countries, and which rarely run anything but government-approved messages) could put an end to the specious charge that all the news is negative and divisive. Yep, it’s a page right out of the autocracy playbook, but if it will quell the uninformed masses, I’m all for it.