Then and Now — Do History and Journalism Repeat Themselves? (Part 3)

Using news, television news in particular, to make money caught on with the success of the news magazine. Straying from just hard news into a mix of topics, they inserted themselves into putting together the story, and took a new pacing and look to create a new genre. The news magazine program still exists today, but as cable channels try to draw in more viewers during prime time and late night (just as 60 Minutes became prime time ) with political commentary programs such as Hannity or The O’Reilly Factor (Fox News.)

Other genres such as comedy have even found a way to use the news to be funny or satirical like self declared “Fake News” shows The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report on Comedy Central, making fun of politicians, celebrities, and parties alike. The important news meant to inform the audience with the facts may still exist on television, but are now competing and sometimes overshadowed by entertainment and news that leans towards what you want to hear. 60 Minutes may have been the drama of the righteous quest with a social purpose, but now prime time news related programs are more to draw in viewers with opinions or humor. Is it just the capitalist quest with a financial purpose?

nofactzone.net

nofactzone.net

News making money was just one way the line between news and business started to blur and make radical changes to the newspaper industry. In the 60s and 70s newspaper began going public to make money. It resulted in the need to appeal to a mass audience and advertisers in order to fund news gathering, changing the business model that supported journalism.

Today, with the prevalence and amount of different news sources online, information and news seems to have gone extremely public in a way: now anyone can write it and post it, digital first and other non-legacy companies have formed online, and news can be accessed by smaller and smaller devices from almost anywhere…for free. This has been a devastating change to the business model that supported newspapers through subscriptions and ads. Why pay for a paper when you can go online, even get the news online from that papers’ s website? Why pay for an ad in the paper when you can post on Craig’s List for free? Papers are still struggling (some shutting down or going to only three days a week instead of a daily paper) to respond to this shift to the Internet. No longer are legacy, traditional news sources the only source of news and no longer do Americans have to pay to learn more.

yourbellalife.com

yourbellalife.com

Then and Now — Do History and Journalism repeat themselves? (Part 2)

While the massive censorship of war correspondents and individuals during the WWII controlled a lot of the print sources of news,
emerging technologies were treated differently from the beginning. Unlike a newspaper that you pay to read and have to pay close
attention to, radio and television could be accessed by anyone with a set. With information and content just flying around in the air, the FCC swooped in with the famous/infamous Fairness Doctrine. Broadcasters could take a stand or allow others to, but must give a
reasonably balanced presentation by having both sides. TV and radio could be a forum for opposing views, but were not meant to be places for opinionated, biased news.

Zhivago, ladisastercomms.blogspot.com

Zhivago, ladisastercomms.blogspot.com

At first that concept seems laughable compared to the extremes of cable news channels today, like Fox News and MSNBC. More  conservative viewers might claim there is bias in what is presented as more neutral news by the so called liberal media. However the presence of those extremes, in a way, is more of a similarity to the Fairness Doctrine than a difference. Instead of forcing every source to share both sides, opening up channels to have the freedom to express each side allows for an ideologically balanced media. People can choose to go to them, and in the case of cable channels like CNN, have to pay for them, so make even more of a choice to pick what news they want to hear, see, and know.

Jonathan Berr, bloggingstocks.com

Jonathan Berr, bloggingstocks.com

A big difference between the big broadcast networks lied more in their motivations for being on air. NBC and CBS lost money in the 50s and 60s, but served as public interest programming to please the FCC and put them closer to the important public affairs and history being made as they covered it. Fox and MSNBC are arguably more about making money than informing the public or doing the public a service. Studies such as this one about how informed Fox News viewers are misinformed about domestic affairs show how going to the news tilted to what you agree with can reinforce what you want more than help you learn the truth about the world.

Farleigh Dickenson University

Farleigh Dickenson University

And as far as whether news should be neutral and what is better motive is news, the question of professional objectivity is still one present today. After all, having a blatant opinion or political motive isn’t the only way to be biased. What a station chooses to air as important, relevant, and interesting, as well as how they frame it and how they tell the story can give away or inject a bias. It’s more subtle and sometimes more effective, and whether or not its intentional can change the way viewers receive,feel about, and act upon what they learn about the world. Is it even possible to have truly unbiased news? Does it matter if it is pure and solely informative if people don’t watch and a show no longer has money to go on?