Friday, March 4, 2011

Real News

SOS Clinton made an interesting point regarding the quality of American news media, comparing it to Al Jazeera and saying that the latter is a better source of information than the former.

At first, this sounds like a crazy claim, and I'm sure there are going to be anti-Clinton media moguls that will pick this up and tout it as evidence of the administration's pro-Muslim views. However, the fact that Clinton can even make that claim should be evidence of how woefully far our own media has fallen in terms of delivering good, solid information. In that sense, I kind of hope the media does pick up on this. It would certainly validate her arguments.

Our news has become entertainment, and entertainment has been forced to become even more insubstantial in order to remain separate. With people like Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and even Rachel Maddow being marketed as "entertainment news", it's not surprising that we haven't heard an informationally robust and accurate story in quite a while. And this is a point that has been made over and over regarding popular faces on T.V. For example, Fox does not describe Beck, O'Reilly, or Hannity as part of their "news" team, instead relegating them to entertainment sources. However, people listen to them, and their shows are designed, as news. Opinion and assertion, posturing and finger-pointing, are the basis of our news media on T.V.

I'd like to think that other media outlets are better, and in some ways they are. The internet is, at least for now, an outlet of free ideas where information can fly at the speed of a mouse-click. Print is in decline, and is perhaps even harder to get info out of than T.V., but with editing and fact-checking it can at least be accurately bland. Radio is still doing steady business, but has been more or less hijacked by the right, which has now succeeded in defunding NPR and further solidified it's presence on the dial.

In the end, we are being subjected to more entertainment, more fact distortion, and more fluff reporting than ever. It's no wonder that a news outlet like Al Jazeera, who is in the thick of revolution and can bring information from the frontline to the living room, is doing a better job than those news agents sitting comfortably in their offices and trolling the internet. We can and should do better.

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