Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Ceding Control?

In the news tonight, I'm pretty and my boobs are perky.  Film at 11!

Quick Quiz:

The news media is which of the following?

A.  A public service run by networks and media conglomerates to keep everyone properly informed and up-to-date in a modern Democracy.

B.  A commercial news programming service that is unfortunately biased by the political interests of the owners of the media outlets.

C.  For-profit entertainment programming run by the entertainment branches of major networks and media outlets for the sole purpose of making as much money as possible by selling eyeballs to advertisers, by intentionally distorting the news in order to "get you to watch more".

Some of you are naive enough to actually believe that (A) is correct.  And in the early days of television and radio news, when news divisions were not beholden to entertainment divisions of media companies, perhaps a little bit of this was true.

Some of you are a little more crass and believe (B) might be true, and to some extent, maybe it was, back in the days of network news which was often accused of having a liberal bias - that is until Fox found out that having a conservative bias would build ratings, too (particularly when you are the only conservative game in town).

The correct answer, of course, is (C).  News programming is entertainment only.  In fact, Fox News, when applying for its "Fair and Balanced" trademark, put down under "goods and services" the description "Entertainment services in the form of news broadcasting..." or something similar. 

News divisions are now subservient to entertainment divisions at most networks, and even "News" networks are all about entertainment and selling eyeballs.   The name of the game is to get people to view the program.  The more people view, and the longer they view, then the higher your ratings.  The higher your ratings, the more you can charge for ad time.  The more you can charge for ad time, the more money you make.  It is as simple as that.

There are some small caveats, of course.  The Odious Glenn Beck discovered the hard way that while ratings are important, demographics count as well.   You don't want to have high ratings among people who are poor and stupid.   Towards the end, Beck's advertisers consisted only of gold sales companies (often tied to Beck himself) and companies selling penis enlargers.  Do the math on that demographic.   It ain't selling airtime!

The news media has discovered that in order to sell eyeballs - either through network ratings or click-through revenue from websites (or even newspapers and magazines), you have to tell people what they want to hear not what they really need to know.  So when a news story breaks, you want to say whatever it is that gets people to keep watching.   So we have things like obsessive coverage of the "tot mom" trial, while in the meantime, thousands of children are abused and killed every month, and their fate goes unnoticed by the media, as the public doesn't sympathize or somehow identify with the accused.

Or you have a reported shooting that turns out not to have happened.    The news anchor tweets, "Well stay tuned to Fox News until we figure it out!"  I am not picking on Fox - CNN is just as bad, if not worse, in terms of engaging in rampant speculation and rumor-mongering.

Watching the news media every day, whether it be on television, the internet, or through newspapers or whatever, is not necessarily going to make you "well informed" or a better person or more knowledgeable or whatever.  It is just going to waste inordinate amounts of your time, make you anxious and depressed (the recipe for good little consumers!) as well as passive.  It will also make you horribly ill-informed as to what actually goes on in the world.  What history writes about topics versus the news, are two different things, as the reporting on Columbine aptly illustrates.

So, unplugging from the media is really important in order to get ahead in life.  The messages you get from the media are either entirely wrong or just largely inaccurate.  They tell you to invest in all the wrong things and send the worst possible messages (don't bother saving, that's hard!  Lease a new car instead!).  The "financial channels" are, of course, the worst of the lot.

In response to this, a reader writes that I am not being kept "up to date" on the latest happenings in the world!  Moreover, I am "ceding control" of my life to others by not being constantly informed on things going on in the world!

OK, well let me explain it a bit clearer.  I am not "ceding control" to others by not obsessing about what events that do not affect me directly, happening in another State, in real-time. 

Rather, it is smarter to wait and see what the real truth is.  Before we had television and radio, this is exactly what people did, by the way.  And they did pretty well (although the print media was, and is, distorted as well, to suit the commercial ends of the people printing it).

In Ferguson, it turned out the "real truth" was that  the fellow had just robbed a store, had lunged into a police car, and then ran toward officers with his HANDS DOWN when told to halt.  The DoJ concluded this, the grand jury concluded this, even President Obama concluded this.

The media, rushing off with the "story" got it all wrong - reporting rumors instead of facts, reporting "eyewitness testimony" of people repeating things they heard, but never saw firsthand.

Yet people who watch the "news" are still convinced that injustice was done in Ferguson, and moreover, this is part of a nationwide pattern of Police brutality.

The guy in Staten island selling illegal cigarettes was the same deal - he had a record as long as your arm and refused to cooperate with the police, instead trying to "negotiate" his arrest and when that failed, physically resisting police force.  No sympathy from me.  It has never been the policy in this country that once you are put under arrest, that you start arguing your case with the arresting officer.  You comply, go to jail, and then get released and later on "tell it to the Judge".   When you resist the police, they use their police powers to bring you into custody.  And if you are a 350 pound tub 'o lard, this may mean you get injured or even killed in the process.  That was a choice you made when you decided to argue with a cop.

This latest case?   Well, it initially appears to be a case of police brutality, once again, based on initial media reporting.   But now the coroner is saying that he hit his head on a bolt in the van, and a fellow inmate claims he was flailing around in the van, intentionally trying to injure himself (presumably to foster a case for police brutality).  Is this true?

We don't know - yet.   In all three cases, people used these incidents as pretexts to run wild and riot - and even kill police officers.  The real story comes out later. And it turns out that the media was BAITING US by reporting inaccurate data - knowing that it would get people to watch obsessively - capturing eyeballs for advertisers.

And even when there is video of an event, it can often be inaccurate.  We had a case here recently where a drunk and disorderly lady was "slammed to the ground" in what some called "Police Brutality".   And if you watch the video on YouTube, which only shows part of what happened, you might believe this.  But if you saw the whole unedited video, of a woman in a fuge state biting and attacking police officers, well, you might come to a different conclusion.

It is like that stupid "Collateral Murder" video, which was heavily edited and a different soundtrack placed over it, to make us think that U.S. Soldiers were just gleefully shooting civilians and children on purpose.  In that case, however, the reality was, some Reuters reporters decided to "tag along" with insurgents carrying grenade launchers.  What the fuck did they think was going to happen?  From 200 yards away, you can't tell the difference between the insurgent and the "reporter" (actually an independent contractor hoping to sell compelling footage of U.S. Soldiers being killed), nor can you aim at one and not the other, even if you could.

It is not hard to manipulate people's perceptions, even with "live video" and perhaps especially with live video as often a narrative or clever editing can be used to make things appear as they are not.

I am not "ceding control" to others by being contemplative and waiting for the real story - the story history writes, not the media.

If anyone is ceding control, it is people who obsess about being "plugged in" to the media 24/7 and then speculating on the latest events of the day.  What ever happened to that Malaysian airplane?  It turns out that watching television as hard as possible didn't find it.  And it never will.   Maybe someday, they will figure it out.  In the meantime, obsessing about it doesn't accomplish much.

Recently, there was a shooting in Texas that some are calling a terrorist act.   Not watching the news, I missed the minute-by-minute speculation-a-thon that really wouldn't have informed me of much.   The next day, it is a three-paragraph article in the paper.   A month from now, we'll likely know much more, and a year from now, much of what we "know" today will turn out to have been wrong.

In the meantime, not watching the news and obsessing about it hasn't really changed my personal situation, since I don't live in Texas, don't attend anti-Muslim rallies, and don't engage in Jihad.

Knowing all the "latest goings on" in the world might be handy for water-cooling chat at work, but it really doesn't help you personally.

Unplug the 24 hour news cycle and free your mind!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Sorry, Comments have been disabled due to the large amount of SPAM and TROLLING as well as GROOMING comments. Thanks for reading, though.

NOTE: Blogger says below that "only members may comment" - however comments have been disabled and I have no idea how to make someone a "member". Sorry!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.