Mass Media is under assault right now and the more they are losing viewers and readers the more out of touch they seem to be with the general public.
Watching the news on TV is almost humorous. We literally live in a time where the most trusted newsman on television is on Comedy Central. The main stream stations are filled with vapid attempts to win over viewers, but tend to appeal only to a smaller and smaller demographic who gets caught up in the more emotional and reactive news on its endless loop. Science fiction writers couldn’t even dream of this.
Speaking for myself and I hope for most of my peers, viewers don’t want new technology like CNN is flaunting. I don’t care if there’s a hologram telling me my news, or if it’s on a giant electric touch screen.
They also don’t like seeing lobbyists and stations churning out the same talk points over and over again with no real debate, or hosts crying on the network. These aren’t arguments they’re tantrums.
They assume we think in two sphere’s of thought. Conservative or Liberal. They break us down into quick talking points and assume we aren’t able to think for ourselves. People don’t want to be preached to, they want information, and they want intelligent conversation.
John Stewart is successful because he actually has in-depth passionate discussions and brings on a diversity of well-informed opinion. Yes, he is partisan with a crowd that always cheers him on, but he also encourages challenges and different thoughts. His guests are expected to know information beyond the simple talking points. He is able to prod them and call out legitimate faults or weaknesses in their arguments, while he allows them to do the same to him. (check out his latest discussion about health care reform.. there’s two parts)
A good journalist exposes as well as informs. I really think the main stations have failed at this. Instead of challenging the political establishment like they have in the past with Watergate, or Vietnam, they’ve drifted toward complacency. They are spewing more and more muck as they shed more and more viewers.
People are leaving because they are able to find reliable information elsewhere. If they want to increase viewership they need to treat people like we can think and stop trying to show us how to think. The Internet didn’t cause the collapse of Mass Media; it was a lemming run off the cliff with the main stations leading the way.
Over a century ago President Theodore Roosevelt gave one of the great oratory speeches of our century warning about the muck rakes in the media who only focus on the dirt on the floor. By never looking up from the dirt on the floor they became a menace to society. He spoke at a time of great change. The radio and the TV would soon become the main forms of communication. Newspapers didn’t die, but the bad ones did. It would be wise for the people in our current situation to take a look at the past and to start treating viewers like they are informed citizens of the world and not mindless drones.