News media once enjoyed a reputation for acting as impartial messengers, recorders of well-researched and documented facts, interrogators of government and industry officials, self-appointed watchdogs and all-around stalwart defenders of the Public’s right to know. And although that notion was as much fairy tale as fact, at the very least the functions of reporting and editorializing were kept at apart on different pages, in separate print sections and TV time segments.
Care was taken to make sure the reader or viewer was aware of being fed either fact supported by more facts gotten from reliable, known sources, or its opposite, editorial opinion, which is quite a different matter entirely. A similar but more complete distinction was made between news and entertainment, even to the extent of employing completely redundant staff, management and accountability, with each division being its own cost center, and where news was not necessarily expected to show a profit.
Sadly, such is no longer the case. Now, opinion, bias, dubious assertions from undocumented sources, and an occasional sprinkling of fact get combined in an entertainment medium as a heavily slanted presentation, the purpose of which is to coerce – I cannot think of a more apt word than coerce – the viewer or reader into a decided mental state regarding the subject at hand. It is literally spoon-fed pabulum packaged for sale as “infotainment” and distributed via syndication to your media player.
The problem is, people buy it, and thereby buy into what underlies it. People listen to shock radio for the rush to the central nervous system they get from the adrenalin release caused by the emotional reactions precipitated by what they hear. What they don’t understand is that they inadvertently dumb themselves down by doing it by exposing themselves to the subliminal messages it’s packed with, most of which are quite blatant. Everyone has done it. Everyone needs to learn not to do it, not to “groove to” the mesmerizing commercial infotainment stream of mindless empty content called the “news” media.