Newspapers, radio, TV, magazines, blogs, the internet. All of these things are sources of news. We have never had so much choice as to where we receive our news from.
With the emergence several decades ago, of media corporations, who own many outlets of news, we have become more and more subject to the views of the people who own these organisations.
It has now reached the point where, in the opinions of more and more people, we are being told what is correct or incorrect, and the freedom of the individual to make his or her own mind up, is being squeezed tighter and tighter.
Newspapers were the standard fare for news for more than 100 years. During this time local and national newspapers were established or bought by individuals who had particular views on a variety of issues. The newspapers slowly became platforms for the opinions of the owners, and today, this is the norm.
Most newspapers have political leanings to a particular party, so anything reported in this newspaper is generally in step with the associated party.
These facts have always been known, but only alluded to in public, Nowadays, the media companies and the parties they support, wear this allegiance like a badge of honour. Now longer when accused of supporting this or that party do they shy away from the answer. “Yes we support them and will do everything in our power to get them elected” comes the proud reply.
Within news organisations, the journalists and newsreaders were always respected for the jobs they did, and their professionalism etc…, This has now changed. Not in the fact that they are no longer respected, but in the fact that they have now become the “stars” of their respective programs or newspapers.
This is more evident on TV, where we have the Anderson Coopers and Bill O’Reilly’s of this world, to give two good examples, who are now the principals, and the news is the sideshow. These 2 people, who are just the tip of the iceberg, ram their views down our throats, and woe betide anyone who disagrees. It reminds me the propaganda used during the cold war, where if you disagreed with the views of the government, you were branded a communist or a traitor. Which part of the freedom of speech act do they not understand?
Another thing which I have observed over the last several years, is the shift towards controversial or provoking questions. Nothing, it appears is taboo. Delving into the private lives of people, when their private lives are not the issue, seems commonplace. For example, Tony Blair, the former British Prime Minister, was conducting a press conference regarding a major political issue, and was asked about reports of his 17 -year old son being seen drunk in public. Most people would regard this a a private matter unrelated to politics, but for modern day journalism, examples such as this one have become the norm. Journalists also want to see anger,so they ask questions intended to provoke emotion. Whether these questions are relevant or not, is in itself irrelevant.
Sensationalism has been around for many, many years, and will always be with us. My question from this article is: are journalists searching for sensationalist news, in preference to unbiased reporting of stories, and the fact seeking questions which they should be asking?