Lawrence, KS - Events Local News Groups Contact
The Mainstream Media Has Failed Us
By Indy Media / filmsforaction.org
By Ebonmuse. From DangerousIntersection.org

I came across an article a few days ago written by John Hockenberry, an award-winning journalist who once worked for NBC’s Dateline and is now a fellow at MIT’s Media Lab. Titled “You Don’t Understand Our Audience”: What I learned about network television at Dateline NBC, this article is a relentless, burning indictment of everything that’s wrong with the mainstream media today. In a future era, when historians look back on our time and ask how so many people could have been deceived into supporting the disastrous, nightmarish war in Iraq and ignoring so many other pressing issues, Hockenberry’s article will be Exhibit A.


Point by devastating point, Hockenberry shows us exactly what’s wrong with the media: their mindless pursuit of “balance” on even the most non-controversial issues of fact:



Our story [on America's "shock and awe" attacks at the beginning of the war] arranged pictures of people coping with the bombing into a slide show, accompanied by the voice of Melinda Liu, a Newsweek reporter describing, over the phone, the harrowing experience of remaining in Baghdad. The outcome of the invasion was still in doubt. There was fear in the reporter’s voice and on the faces of the people in the pictures.


…At the conclusion of the screening… an NBC/GE executive responsible for “standards” shook his head and wondered about the tone in the reporter’s voice. “Doesn’t it seem like she has a point of view here?” he asked.


The way they shove legitimate, critically important stories aside to make room for feel-good fluff, pandering to their viewers rather than risk upsetting them by telling them things they might not already know:



I had been in Corvo’s office to propose a series of stories about al-Qaeda, which was just emerging as a suspect in the attacks. While well known in security circles and among journalists who tried to cover international Islamist movements, al-Qaeda as a terrorist organization and a story line was still obscure in the early days after September 11. It had occurred to me and a number of other journalists that a core mission of NBC News would now be to explain, even belatedly, the origins and significance of these organizations. But Zucker insisted that Dateline stay focused on the firefighters. The story of firefighters trapped in the crumbling towers, Zucker said, was the emotional center of this whole event. Corvo enthusiastically agreed. “Maybe,” said Zucker, “we ought to do a series of specials on firehouses where we just ride along with our cameras. Like the show Cops, only with firefighters.” He told Corvo he could make room in the prime-time lineup for firefighters, but then smiled at me and said, in effect, that he had no time for any subtitled interviews with jihadists raging about Palestine.


The way news organizations are literally forced by corporate executives to choose certain stories to air in order to better promote other programs on the same network (I hadn’t known about this, and it floored me to hear it):



Sometimes entertainment actually drove selection of news stories. Since Dateline was the lead-in to the hit series Law & Order on Friday nights, it was understood that on Fridays we did crime. Sunday was a little looser but still a hard sell for news that wasn’t obvious or close to the all-important emotional center. In 2003, I was told that a story on the emergence from prison of a former member of the Weather Underground, whose son had graduated from Yale University and won a Rhodes Scholarship, would not fly unless it dovetailed with a story line on a then-struggling, soon-to-be-cancelled, and now-forgotten Sunday-night drama called American Dreams, which was set in the 1960s. I was told that the Weather Underground story might be viable if American Dreams did an episode on “protesters or something.”


The way obvious conflicts of interest are steadfastly ignored:



At mandatory, hours-long “ethics training” meetings we would watch in-house videos that brought all the drama and depth of a driver’s-education film to stories of smiling, swaggering employees (bad) who bought cases of wine for business associates on their expense accounts, while the thoughtful, cautious employees (good) never picked up a check, but volunteered to stay at the Red Roof Inn in pursuit of “shareholder value.”


…I did, however, point out to the corporate-integrity people unhelpful details about how NBC News was covering wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that our GE parent company stood to benefit from as a major defense contractor. I wondered aloud, in the presence of an integrity “team leader,” how we were to reconcile this larger-scale conflict with the admonitions about free dinners. “You make an interesting point I had not thought of before,” he told me. “But I don’t know how GE being a defense contractor is really relevant to the way we do our jobs here at NBC news.”


And the way in which legitimate, serious issues are barred from the table because they’re not telegenic enough:



In 2003, one of our producers obtained from a trial lawyer in Connecticut video footage of guards subduing a mentally ill prisoner. Guards themselves took the footage as part of a safety program to ensure that deadly force was avoided and abuses were documented for official review. We saw guards haul the prisoner down a greenish corridor, then heard hysterical screaming as the guard shooting the video dispassionately announced, “The prisoner is resisting.” For 90 seconds several guards pressed the inmate into a bunk. All that could be seen of him was his feet. By the end of the video the inmate was motionless. Asphyxiation would be the official cause of death.


…Yet at the conclusion of the screening, the senior producer shook his head as though the story had missed the mark widely. “These inmates aren’t necessarily sympathetic to our audience,” he said. The fact that they had been diagnosed with schizophrenia was unimportant. Worse, he said that as he watched the video of the dying inmate, it didn’t seem as if anything was wrong.


“Except that the inmate died,” I offered.


“But that’s not what it looks like. All you can see is his feet.”


…”But,” I pleaded, “the man died. That’s just a fact. The prison guards shot this footage, and I don’t think their idea was to get it on Dateline.”


“Look,” the producer said sharply, “in an era when most of our audience has seen the Rodney King video, where you can clearly see someone being beaten, this just doesn’t hold up.”


“Rodney King wasn’t a prisoner,” I appealed. “He didn’t die, and this mentally ill inmate is not auditioning to be the next Rodney King. These are the actual pictures of his death.”


“You don’t understand our audience.”


There’s much, much more in the article, and I can’t recommend highly enough that you read the whole thing. I swore off network TV news long ago, as well as CNN and Fox, and I can’t be happier that I did. It’s now thoroughly clear, to any thinking person, that their sole reason for existing is to soothe us and pander to us so we’ll sit still long enough to watch the commercials. Any idea of informing the public, of telling us the facts we need to know to make informed judgments on important issues, is long, long gone.


For all that blogs are derided as uncouth and radical by the self-appointed guardians of the mainstream, many of them contain more original, relevant, insightful reporting and analysis than the major news networks can muster in days. These lumbering corporate behemoths have already begun to slide into irrelevance, but the sooner we can bring about their collapse, the better.

0.0 ·
0
What's Next
Trending Today
Have You Heard of The Great Forgetting? It Happened 10,000 Years Ago & Completely Affects Your Life
Daniel Quinn · 17,438 views today · (Excerpted from the book, The Story of B) With every audience and every individual, I have to begin by making them see that the cultural self-awareness we inherit from our...
The Myth of Positivity: Why Your Pain Holds a Mighty Purpose
umair haque · 13,447 views today · Of all the great myths of contemporary life, one of the most toxic is positivity. It says: there are negative and positive emotions, and only the positive ones are worth...
A Hauntingly Beautiful Short Film About Life and Death
5 min · 11,130 views today · The Life of Death is a touching handdrawn animation about the day Death fell in love with Life.
10 Stunning Images from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year People's Choice Award
Natural History Museum · 10,152 views today · These incredible images are a selection from of the 25 shortlisted by The Natural History Museum for the People's Choice Award from this year's Wildlife Photographer of the...
Seven Must-Have Skills for the 21st Century
Tommy Lehe · 6,176 views today · We live in a world that moves faster than we do. Trying to keep up can be an overwhelming task that at times feels hopeless, like we are falling further and further behind—but...
Forget Air Force One, Pentagon Wastes Billions and Billions Every Month
Nadia Prupis · 5,131 views today · President-elect Donald Trump's focus on single Boeing contract ignores enormous waste of bloated Pentagon budget
Stunning Summary of US Imperialism and Native Resistance... on MSNBC!
4 min · 3,299 views today · On The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC, Lawrence explains why a protest by Native Americans in North Dakota reminds us of the history American always tries to forget.
The Most Powerful Algorithm in the World
Joe Brewer · 2,206 views today · After the insanity of the U.S. election, a lot of people are blaming Facebook for its algorithms that parse us into ideological bubbles and spread “fake news” and other kinds...
DREAM: A Spoken Word Meditation For When Life Is Kicking Your Ass
4 min · 2,098 views today · If life is kicking your ass and the general un-coolness of everybody on planet erf is making you want to off yourself, TALK to someone: 800-273-8255 (national suicide...
Amanda Abbington Introduces iAnimal - 42 Days in the Life of Chickens
4 min · 1,686 views today · Shot undercover in British factory farms and slaughterhouses, this immersive 360° video gives you a birds-eye view of what happens to chicken from farm to plate.
Standing Rock Wisdom: How Sacred, Nonviolent Activism Has the Power to Succeed
Charles Eisenstein · 1,675 views today · I am told by Native American friends active at Standing Rock that the elders are counseling the Water Protectors to undertake each action prayerfully and to stay off the...
The Other Way of Knowing
Lilian Na’ia Alessa · 1,646 views today · Western science and Indigenous worldviews are often seen as incompatible, with the Indigenous view usually being far less valued by society at large. But an inside look at...
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 1,408 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
How a White Supremacist Became a Civil Rights Activist
Araz Hachadourian · 1,361 views today · The story of a KKK leader’s transformation shows us that we need not live forever with the kind of violence we saw in Charleston this month.
Veterans at Standing Rock Ask Forgiveness for War Crimes Against Tribal Nations
Jen Hayden · 1,219 views today · Jon Eagle Sr., Tribal Historic Preservation Officer at Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has reported something wholly unexpected happened at the Standing Rock Reservation today. The...
Dear Activists, Maybe It's Time to Admit That We've Got It All Wrong
Mickey Z. · 1,198 views today · “The first step in the revolution is eye contact.” - Alicen Grey
Sean Carroll - The Meaning of Life
7 min · 1,162 views today · The world keeps happening in accordance with its rules; it's up to us to make sense of it and give it value. Sean Carroll Music: Moby - God Moving Over the Face of the Waters
Solar is Already Producing More Energy Than Oil, Says Major Scientific Review
Nafeez Ahmed · 1,055 views today · And is twice as powerful than previously thought
The 24-Hour Emergency Hotline for Syrian Refugees
7 min · 986 views today · Mohammed Abu Amar runs a makeshift 24-hour helpline from his flat in Hamburg, guiding scared refugees fleeing the violence in Syria across the water to Europe.  Despite losing...
Why People Cling to Old Beliefs
1 min · 905 views today · Cognitive psychologist and neuroscientist at McGill University, Daniel Levitin, explains why people can be so stubborn when it comes to false beliefs. This behavior is...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
The Mainstream Media Has Failed Us