Decline and division in the American media – La PRAIRIE

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Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

In the 1976 film “Network”, news anchor Howard Beale loses his temper on the air and increases ratings with his passionate, honest, unscripted rant about the state of the world’s affairs. This prompts the network to give him his own show, where he stirs up rage and emotion by shouting out his opinions on simplified issues and gets more audiences. The station, which once existed to promote information and the dissemination of facts, survives today as what we would today call reality TV.

Beale replaces a script made up of unbiased, factual reporting with a tirade uninformed by anything but his feelings and opinions. The film is still enjoyed today, as it seems to have been a little more than slightly prophetic. The film ends with a live, network-orchestrated assassination that sensationalizes the loss of life and tragedy for ratings and to promote an inbound program.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with expressing opinions, and warnings are given before most news channels show us graphic videos of tragedies to increase ratings. But it’s important to know that “Network” was a dark comedy that was hailed as unrealistic in the 1970s, and that the condition of most major news stations is comparable to reality shows like “Big Brother.” .

Entire channels where we can watch the same people sitting for 24 hours talking about the same six stories with increasing hysteria as they assure us that the seventh story is being tweaked to our delight. If we fail to stay interested, their livelihood is threatened, so stories are pushed harder, our biases are pushed, our emotions tickled. The fact that we all know this does not seem to deter the predominant sensationalism in our news media.

According to the Visual Capitalist, nearly half of Americans (49%) in 2020 say they have “very little or no confidence in television news, compared to just 27% in 1994”. Today, only 18% of Americans say they have “great” confidence in their media. This is in part due to the sensationalism and apparent prejudices that we all know by nature to expect on big shows. The news is probably now fake, so people in turn are looking to the Howard Beales of our time.

Desperately, “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” a show transparently just a xenophobic rich man using scare tactics to deepen partisan, racial and class divisions is the most watched cable news show in history. this year as the most-watched cable news show in the country’s history, according to Nielson Media Research. Carlson himself is openly right-wing, openly emotional, and openly biased in his opinions, but these three things sell. For this reason, it seems, most Americans turn to unaffiliated networks in the United States for their opinions, with the BBC being the most trusted news channel in the country, according to the Reuters Institute for the study of journalism.

All of this is clearly awful and really contributes enormously to the political division in our country. The Pew Research Center notes that “nearly eight in ten Democrats and Independents of Democratic tendency (78%) say they have ‘a lot’ or ‘some’ confidence in information that comes from national news organizations,” contrast (43 points). percentage) to the 35% of Republicans who do so. This clear partisanship promoted by the media does nothing to promote a civil and passionate search for truth and facts. Alienating those who think differently does little to stop misinformation. At a time when it is vital that COVID-19 be stopped through vaccination, that the electoral process be seen as legitimate to preserve what little democracy we have left, and that the laws are transparent to serve the masses for whom they are are created, the news should be dull, honest and true. Beware of what is exciting, emotional, and ultimately wrong.


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