The media consists of a bunch of different people, on a bunch of different types of stages that spew a lot of content. From newspapers, to blogs like this one, to television to cable news networks to radio talk shows and on and on, it’s permeated our lives whether we like it or not.
As I’ve detailed in the past here, it’s also changed a lot in the last few years. I began to notice it somewhat when George W. Bush was president. I think it was the “Mission Accomplished” speech he gave on the deck of that ship after Gulf War II that was really the beginning of the media’s downfall. At that time you had competing networks like CNN and Fox News that not only gave the news, but commented on it. Up until that time, usually comments from reporters were verboten!
Of course, today there is more commentary than there is reporting. No one covers the news anymore. They tell you what they think of the news. And, they go after those they politically don’t agree with like a bum on a baloney sandwich. Take the recent “Sharpiegate” incident that Donald Trump endured. In case you missed it, he showed a drawing of hurricane Dorian’s track nearing Florida, actually making landfall in Florida (before the models showed it turning north), and then someone had used a Sharpie pen to track it across Florida and into Alabama. Now, the National Weather Service says they never thought that would happen. So this big controversy breaks out.
Add to all of that a new poll by Gallup that says you and I like the interaction on social media between reporters and their audiences. 74% of respondents said that was a good thing (25% disagreed). But when asked what reporters should be talking about in their twitter feeds, it got interesting. 62% wanted to see reporters correct mistakes made by politicians (like a Joe Biden gaffe!). 52% wanted to see a more in depth style of reporting that they may not have had time for during a TV broadcast (newspaper doesn’t have that problem).
What I found to be interesting on this is that only 5% of the respondents wanted to hear what the reporter actually felt about a story. They didn’t want feelings and opinions online…which is basically the bulk of what we see from them anymore. They wanted fact-based information, not feelings.
Frankly, I think you could probably also expand that to television coverage. I really do believe there is a very small minority that wants to hear what the talking heads have to say about what they think about a story. Most people could care less what Geraldo, or The Five, or Morning Joe think about something. So, why do they spew the stuff anyway? Simple. There are 325 million people living in this country. 5% of that figure is 16,250,000. That would put them at the top of the ratings for cable news and probably most nights for the broadcast networks. Certainly it just about equals what someone like a Sean Hannity or a Rush Limbaugh has listening to them on a daily basis.
So, 5% of Americans listening to something to get the opinions of some talking heads do make a difference! And that’s where the media is dead wrong. They come away thinking that because Rachel Maddow has 800,000 viewers at night, she’s super popular. Maybe compared to other people on the 2500 cable networks she is, but that’s still just a drop in the bucket as to what America thinks. And most Americans, by a very wide margin don’t want to hear what she thinks or anyone else. Personally, I think we’re all smart enough to make up our own minds. And that’s what we all should be doing!
Carry on world…you’re dismissed!