Happy News Year: "The News Dissector" Looks Beyond The Top Stories of the Year to Examine the News System
By Danny Schechter
New York, New York: At year end, the news agenda fills up with stories on top stories, a chance for networks to repackage footage or highlight favorite newsmakers. These stories rarely look at the news system that picks them or why.
There are two news systems in America---the official parody of journalism that represents most of what the mainstream or what some call the "lame stream" media offers.
These are the "products" an "official" news business, an industry now under growing pressure from within and without to maintain a semblance of credibility with an global audience that has so many other divergent sources to rely on or suck information from.
A part of a global entertainment combine, the advertising sponsored "news biz" also spends inordinate amounts of money marketing itself and referencing its own output.
It is that system that has become one of the major pillars of established power like the institutions of government and the office holders it covers to a fault. Official news tells us what politicians say, and say about each other. Some of the stars of the news world move into politics while former politicians become our pundits and meaning makers.
The system is interconnected and symbiotic. It looks diverse but it US News operates in an ideological framework as surely as Chinese News. No wonder that critics now speak of a military-industrial-media complex.
News has become a publicity machine for those in power but also a shaper of the narratives and myths we live by. It is not surprising that two thirds of the graduates of Journalism Schools find jobs not in news but in PR and lobbying firms.
Many self-styled journalists function increasingly like stenographers, offering up only the news they consider fit to print while the audience increasingly turns away, or migrates to visual media, and social media, abandoning most "serious" newspapers and magazines all together.
One of the reasons is a sense--well documented by many media critics--is that news is almost processed to leave out as much as it includes. Investigative Journalist Russ Banker of the website whowhatwhere.com puts it this way:
"It's not so much a challenge to identify important stories the media missed. They are to be found everywhere. What's hard is to find transformative or substantial stories the media actually got right--really right, by being bold and going wide and deep.
Truth be told, the media misses most of the real stories--or at least the stories behind the facile, thin inquiries that prop up wobbly headlines," he writes."
This may be one reason traditional news in the center of the media system is losing its appeal with more critical consumers turning to specialized or even international outlets that have entered the US media space, by offering what we used to call "hard news" and analysis that most US news outlets underplay or abandon.
Welcome Al Jazeera America, RT, and Sahara Reporters as well as Arise TV to tell us the stories that are often conspicuous by their absence.
Some US alternative media outlets are looking for market share, too, like Link Tv, Democracy Now, The Real news Network, and individuals iike Laura Flanders and Bill Moyers.