June 12, 2012

News sources dry up. Scary stuff.

Without news, what would Jon make fun of?
I read an article recently (no link, sorry) about how local TV news has become homogenous. In the old days, the news shows would try to outdo one another by coming up with the hot stories. They actually investigated things. Not anymore.

The article said there is a central source that feeds the stories to a city's news shows. They -- the central source -- determine what stories will air, how they'll be told, and what visuals they'll include. Then the stations take this home, insert their own reporters into the feed, and regurgitate the exact same stories on every news station.

This didn't come as a surprise to me. I've long noted that NYC's three main news stations presented identical stories, in the same order, and often using the same video footage. In my mind, the newsrooms were all in one building, on one floor. They met in the morning, where they were handed the stories, and then presented them on their own stations as "unique". The subsidiary stations (in NYC, 5, 9 and 11, as opposed to the "main" stations, 2, 4 and 7) are really offshoots of the main stations. You'll see a different "anchor" and the same stories -- but on these stations, the stories are often a day old. (I assume this is a sort of contractual hobbling of the secondary stations.)

This is not healthy for our democracy. And the fact that most papers are about to fold, probably within five years, max, is another ominous sign for our country. Already, we have AP providing a unified news source from which the papers and electronic media feed. Take away the papers and there will be less profit for AP (Reuters doesn't count; let's face it), which will mean less resources within AP.

No matter how you look at it, we will soon be fed through one news source. And whoever controls that source, controls us. These are interesting times.


Artichoke Annie said...

Spot on Keith, there are six corporations that own all the major newspapers. And we wondered why we weren't getting updates on what was going on after Fukushima? It really is a joke and extremely sad.

Greed and money rules. As Gordon Gekko said in the 1987 movie Wall Street, "Greed is good" and that was 25 years ago.

writenow said...

Thanks, Annie. On a similar note, I was thinking today that the tombstone for the human race should say we died because of panty-assed journalists. Corporations couldn't take over our country if the fourth estate was doing its job and telling the people the truth. They are complicit in our nation's ills, and that is so sad. How can it be that ethical journalism disappeared in an instant? If you asked us 20 years ago if that was even possible, we'd have said "no". Alas, here we are. Nice seein' ya, Annie.