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What the Corporate News Industry Won't Ever Tell Its Audience

By       Message Thom Hartmann     Permalink
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"Only people power can defeat the oligarchy that's seized our nation."


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We were watching the TV at the airline departure area.

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"Is it a terrorist incident?" Wolf Blitzer asked. Nobody knows, was the apparent answer.

"Something's happened to the news," a woman around my age at the DC airport, said to Louise and me. "I don't know what it is, but we used to actually know a lot of detail about a lot of things going on, 30 years ago, and now it seems like all the media does is focus on one or two stories all day long and I feel like I'm uninformed."

"Like eating junk food?" I said.

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"Yeah, exactly. Empty calories. Why doesn't the news give me the news?"

Louise and I were sitting in front of a TV watching CNN, which was doing hour-long (perhaps day-long?) coverage of a possible terrorist incident in London (turned out it was a traffic accident). Louise shook her head. "Now you've got him started," she said.

The woman, an employee of the airline, looked interested.

"Used to be," I said, "that radio and TV stations had to deliver actual news in order to retain their over-the-air broadcast license. It was called 'the fairness doctrine,' and Reagan stopped enforcing it in '87 and the Obama administration's FCC removed it altogether. Then the media consolidated like crazy, in part because Reagan had stopped enforcing the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and no president since Jimmy Carter broke up AT&T has been willing to put it back into effect, and in part because of the media deregulation that Clinton signed in 1996."

"So?" she asked. "Why does that mean that all we get now is nonstop hype and opinion-drivel?"

"It used to be that the metric news organizations used to determine if they were 'doing their job' was how well the American public was informed. That was actually a serious metric, pre-1987, because your station's license depended on it. The public could -- and did -- complain that they weren't being well-informed, and stations jumped when those FCC complaints came in. But now, the only metric the 'news' business uses is how many viewers they have and, thus, how profitable they are for advertisers."

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"But why does that mean all we get are the disasters and the dramas of Donald Trump and other crap like that?" She'd expanded her universe of media complaints.

I remembered a lesson that Bob Brakeman, the news director at WITL-AM/FM in Lansing, Michigan, where I used to work in the 1970s as a beat reporter and studio news presenter, taught me.

"When you're choosing what goes into your newscast, remember that there are three buckets of news," Bob, one of the best news guys I ever worked for, said (as best I can remember). "First, there are the facts: who, what, where, when, why, and how. Second is drama: who is hurt or hurting, who is angry, who is happy, who is trying to do what to whom. And the third is sports: who is winning and who is losing."

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http://www.thomhartmann.com
Thom Hartmann is a Project Censored Award-winning New York Times best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk program on the Air America Radio Network, live noon-3 PM ET. www.thomhartmann.com His most recent books are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights," "We The People," "What Would Jefferson Do?," "Screwed: The Undeclared War (more...)
 

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6 people are discussing this page, with 9 comments  Post Comment


Ron Madden

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To change a sociopathic business model, the "public" has to agree on a set of basic human values, which does not place money first and foremost, as being "inalienable". Essentially the business model is getting a pass because the public at large has no substantive opposition to it, i.e. the average American consumer is as pro money & profit as the average American businessman. The distinction is moot. If that weren't the case, we would stop whining and simply refuse to accept that status quo, by any means necessary.

I think this constantly patting ourselves on the back is actually killing us.

Submitted on Tuesday, Oct 10, 2017 at 11:08:19 PM

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David Watts

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A few lyrics from a song released in 1966:

Hey, Mr. Reporter,
I'll believe all that you put down.
I'll believe the sun is going up,
Even though it's going down. ....

The reason I am stupid,
Is because I read you every day.
You misquote all of the true things
Because they rub you the wrong way.

Submitted on Tuesday, Oct 10, 2017 at 11:20:51 PM

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Lois Gagnon

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Reply to David Watts:   New Content

What song and artist is this?

Submitted on Wednesday, Oct 11, 2017 at 12:32:37 AM

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IndentIndent

Devil's Advocate

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Reply to Lois Gagnon:   New Content
Mr. Reporter, by The Kinks.

Submitted on Wednesday, Oct 11, 2017 at 4:33:16 AM

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David Watts

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Reply to Devil's Advocate:   New Content

Lois, Mr. Devil's Advocate -- Great name be the way -- has got it; Mr. Reporter by the Kinks. I am impressed anybody else knows it. Absolutely a little known song.

But the article brought it to mind.

Hey, Mr. Reporter,
How 'bout talking about yourself?
Do you like what you're doing,
Or is it that you can do nothing else?

Hey, Mr. Reporter,
Don't you twist my words around.
I'll kill you, rather than let you,
Distort my simple sound.

The reason I am morbid, Is because I read you every day. You contest all of the good things, Because they rub you up the wrong way.

Hey, Mr. Reporter,
How 'bout talking about yourself?
Do you like what you're doing,
Or is it that you can do nothing else?

Hey, Mr. Reporter,
I'll believe all that you put down.
I'll believe the sun is going up,
Even though it's going down.........

Submitted on Wednesday, Oct 11, 2017 at 9:31:56 AM

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David Watts

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Reply to David Watts:   New Content

I just checked. There seem to be be many recordings/videos. This is just one of Mr. Reporter: .youtube.com/watch?v=nmKL48wBst0

Submitted on Wednesday, Oct 11, 2017 at 9:59:31 AM

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Lois Gagnon

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Reply to Devil's Advocate:   New Content

Thanks.

Submitted on Wednesday, Oct 11, 2017 at 8:42:29 PM

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Jerry Lobdill

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Thom Hartmann is the real deal. We need more like him.

Submitted on Wednesday, Oct 11, 2017 at 9:36:04 PM

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Tony Orlando

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Okay, I get it; the rules have been taken away which once enforced timely, pertinent, and accurate news which once had many investigative journalists. But what I don't get is how you can comeeplety skip over the fact that a news anchor on television will read anything written on the teleprompter, anything, just as long as his contract will be renewed. How you can miss the fact that the people watching the news will stand for this treasonous act to be committed on their neighbor, their children.


You are saying the problem, well you are saying that the problem is just the gun manufactures and forgetting to include the person who pulls the trigger!

Submitted on Thursday, Oct 12, 2017 at 6:37:37 PM

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