The whorification of american main stream media.
According to the merriam-webster online dictionary, the third entry for the word “whore” is a venal (capable of being bought or obtained for money or other valuable consideration) or an unscrupulous (unprincipled) person. Unfortunately, that is what the American mainstream media has embodied itself to be in modern times. From the “embedded” coverage of the second Iraq war (Testosterone oozing out of some journalists embedded in those Abrams tanks — a pure one sided coverage of news while being in the comfort zone of protection by the troops) to the coverage of the American economic crisis(where the money honeys were asking “so how do you feel?” to the guy who just got laid off from Lehman brothers) and the most recent coverage of the presidential election, the media has just become a sounding box for anyone who claims to be a “pundit” or a “strategist”. Though all the talking heads repeat the words “we report — you decide”, anyone watching can attest to the fact that what flows is just a plethora of opinions — some personal, some derivative, and some, based on pure hypothesis.
Today’s technology has replaced the delivery mechanism of television from what we used to know as “public airwaves” with cable and satellite transmissions. When good old “public airwaves” were being used, the broadcasting agencies had a responsibility to the public — deliver news and analysis to keep the wheels of democracy turning. Long gone are those days where “responsibility to the public” mattered. All that media caters to are large corporations and the blind ambition to turn in more cha-ching.
The other day, I saw a network transform from “The best political team on television” to “The hurricane headquarters” in a matter of minutes based on a satellite image that gave away an approaching hurricane. To my surprise, it was the same team — now that’s what I call a real transformation (So long, Transformer action figures!). What they are good at, is airing a wonderful menagerie of images and utilizing the greatest in technology (can somebody say surface computing and satellite video phones?) to deliver their so called “breaking news”. The only thing that is “breaking” is the common man’s intellect and ability to think in the objective sense. The networks invent another side of every story in the interest of making it “fair and balanced”. I think it is fair to say that sometimes, the story need not have another side - they are either morally right or wrong. Would they have brought in Al Qaieda to talk about their view point on the 911 attacks? That would make absolutely no sense since the attacks were wrong — from every point of view. Talking about fair and balanced, isn’t it a national shame that Fox(spelt F-A-L-S-E) is still recognized as a real news network?
Where are the hard hitting questions? Why is investigative journalism an alien concept? You may think they could be put on the endangered species list, but if you watch carefully, you will find that is alive, well and thriving in the segments where lives of celebrities and socialists are chronicled. The new breed of analysts include a former sportscaster, a former Miss New Hampshire and a former music DJ. Now, I am not suggesting that being one of these undermine their analytical capabilities, but it sure looks like being an analyst was not their number one priority. It seems to be dream job ambrosia — they get to wear pretty clothes, look good, invite random pundits and strategists and ask questions (that have everything but substance) to each of the heads in the “talking boxes”. I remember being excited on discovering “picture-in-picture” television, but never fathomed that it would come to this sorry state. Analysts were introduced in the early days of television to think, and ask questions to people who shaped policies and influenced public thought (what the average Joe could not do).The role reversal has been dramatic of late — the average joes are starting blogs, going on fact finding missions and exposing lies and false statements — “in your face reporting” as I would like to call it; while the analyst has metamorphosed to average joe.
Here’s an experiment you can try. Watch an advertisement segment between two cycles of media content. Then keep track of how many ads cater to you (the average consumer). To your surprise(or not), you will find very few. Last time I tried it, I counted only two — one I don’t need to buy yet (Viagra- phew!), and the other, I cannot afford to buy yet (Benz GLK). The rest of them were for Energy companies, transportation companies and one for American chemistry(what?). I don’t know about you, but I am certainly not going to Walgreens and order me some ConocoPhilps, Clean coal energy or demand that I need goods from the CSX train company. So therein lies the actual question — why are these companies funneling dollars into the news networks telling us about how they are the custodians of our future and how they are trying their best to keep the environment clean? Irony, it seems, is the underlying theme of their campaign, or, it could be to influence news coverage best fitted to their corporate agenda. Who am I to judge? I am just an average guy watching the “idiot box” — except this time around, the idiots are at both ends.
So clearly, it can be deduced that journalism in its true sense, is dying and the networks are in bed with corporations, energy companies and special interests. So it should not be a surprise why real reporters are fleeing from the so called “Mainstream Media” to places where journalism is still alive(link) or prefer to do more “field reporting”.
Remember, it is all a quest for your eyeballs — viewership is king — so make sure you watch what you need to watch and skip the ones that are disguised as journalism. Thereby bringing soul into their lifeless, yet attractive, money hogging body.
Oh, that reminds me — my recording of “Wife swap international” just became available. Bye y’all.
Picture Courtesy — New York Magazine.