Watching the news is a rite of passage for any newly crowned adult. It’s a sign to you and everyone you know that you’re a grown up and you keep up with what’s going on in the world.
Because of the news, you can name like 50 percent of the presidential race issues, you’re aware of every tragedy going on at home and abroad, and each day at work you get to ask someone if they heard about either the *insert feel good story here* or *insert catastrophe involving a zoo animal here* that you saw the previous night. The news is making you such a well-rounded and mature human being.
But if that’s all you’re doing to stay informed, you’re wasting your time. I don’t care if you’re watching Fox, NBC, CNN, whatever, it’s not doing the job. In the past watching the news or reading the morning paper was the only option to hear what was happening in the world, but that is no longer the case. The news may be a staple of your parents and grandparents’ nightly routine, but like The Cold War and Polio, this is something from the past that needs to be eradicated.
In this day and age, the news is just another TV show, competing for ratings just like whatever shitstorm lineup ABC is rolling out this fall. Not only are they competing against the other news stations, they’re competing with whatever else is on at the time.
Hey 5:30 news, just a heads up, you’re facing off with Family Feud, and I’m taking Steve Harvey in that matchup every day. The talk shows that come on later are even more screwed because they’re going up against prime-time TV or someone’s Netflix binging.
The networks running these news programs are fashioning them like any other prime-time TV show trying to grab some viewership, just instead of having to create an intricate plot about terrorist acts or political drama, reality spares them the requirement to be creative, and usually doesn’t come with the happy endings.
They’re essentially giving you the Michael Bay version of what happened in the world today. You’ll see a bit of what’s going on in the world, but only the part that gets some eyeballs on the screen. That’s great if you’re looking for the exciting SparkNotes of world events, but if you’re trying to truly inform yourself there are far better outlets to do so.
The days of Cronkite keeping the American people in the loop are long gone. There are some exceptions, but mostly we’ve got news networks that are just keeping us filled with what we want to see, instead of hard-hitting reports of what we need to see. The talk shows do a bit of a better job, but in the end, they know job number one is to get viewers.
I don’t fault them for looking for the sexy event or political soundbite. It’s the networks’ job to see who can fire off the hottest take with a catchy format while simultaneously tailoring it to its demographics’ preferences. You’re watching something that is trying to cater to you, not give it to you strait, so don’t cheat yourself by exclusively relying on that alone.
Similar to how a sitcom has the same set plan of rising and falling action with a climax and resolution, your trusty network news trots out the same blueprint every damn night. Headline, tragedy, political praise/criticism, some impending crisis you should be concerned about, and a wonderfully uplifting story to close out the show.
All flash, no substance. It’s like a real-life blockbuster action movie that got released in January because it was actually dogshit.
The issue at hand is that the former gold-standard news networks have become the worst place to grab the news. And who’s to blame them for trying to spice it up or sticking certain issues just to grab viewers? They know as well as we do that we don’t need them to be our source for the world goings-on like back in the day. All the updates and content we need are on our phones; they’ve been reduced to scrambling to grab viewers just like any other channel.
Especially with election season coming up, it’s important to not rely on solely what you hear via MSNBC or FoxNews. If you’re in the mood for a quick refresher on some news topics, or just need some quality background noise of a few political commentators you favor analyzing the antics of the candidate you don’t, fire up a news channel. I’m still going to have my preferred network on, especially when the Twins are getting blown out early.
But, if you’re looking to educate yourself and not just be a news network parrot, dig a bit deeper with some investigative reading, fact-checking, and come to some real opinions of your own. You owe it to your own intellect to take the time to find hard-hitting pieces that are meant to educate; not clickbait, or the TV equivalent to it that gets splashed on your screen every night.
Find a balance of your TV news, online print, and
John Oliver any other outlet you trust to hit you with some facts about what matters.
Getting your news exclusively via the network at prime-time is a bad habit, and like you should’ve done with every bad habit you picked up in college, just say no to relying on the news networks..
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