Friday, January 21, 2005
Why Care About Media Consolidation?
There is also the often rampant use of false equivalance in stories. (From CJR Campaign Desk: "false equivalence belongs in the trash heap of discredited journalistic shortcuts, but in the final weeks of the election campaign reporters began relying on the practice as a protective shield. In its most common form, it amounts to a reporter holding up actions on both sides as equally blameworthy, when it's clear that no such equivalence exists. The classic parody of false equivalence: To be sure, Candidate X is a mass murderer, but it's worth keeping in mind that Candidate Y is a serial jaywalker.)
As the so-called first tier media conglomerates continue to consolidate we are left with a reduced spectrum of vital options for getting our news and information. Combining this with the current news reporting attitude of "If neither of the major political parties brings a subject up, we're not going to suggest other perspectives," and all that's left is a horribly stunted discourse. It's hard to notice just how stunted it is because it seems exciting, pundits cutting each other off, exuding high energy while an eager shouting match goes on. I think of this as the pundit version of pro wrestling: much flash with little substance and loosely scripted from the beginning.
The upshot of media consolidation is that between 50 and 100% of the "official" news you hear, read, or see probably ultimately comes from only 5 or 6 companies. That, in my opinion, is a sorrowful state of affairs. I also resent having to search hard for alternative perspectives to this "mainstream" juggernaut of "news." I particularly see this when I hear "person on the street" interviews that parrot almost word-for-word the newscasts from previous days. Are the newscasts distilling the word on the street? I don't think so. It seems more like the "message" filters out to the public who repeat it back to the reporters.
But that's just me. I'm a curmudgeonly misanthrope, right? I prefer to think I like to have complete and relevent information before I form an opinion.