The conundrum of the American news media

The beauty of today’s news media lies in its variety. No matter your political predisposition, there’s a network ready and waiting to harden your beliefs.

Feeling particularly liberal? Flip to MSNBC and listen for one of Keith Olbermann’s patented hyper-rants or a why-isn’t-everyone-as-smart-as-I-am lecture from Rachel Maddow.

If you feel you’re forgetting about how Barack Obama is shredding the fabric of America  (he probably wasn’t even born here) with his socialism and his inability to understand that we are in a war on terror, you can count on all of FOX News’ personalities to happily remind you.

Or maybe you just want to be irked by some guys with names like Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper- in this case CNN is for you.

But what about those ancient relics the world used to turn to for information? By all accounts, newspapers have not kept up with the times. While televisions have gotten larger (and thinner), and computers have gotten smaller and smaller, newspapers remain cumbersome and unwieldy.

Furthermore, newspapers often force us to think more deeply and develop our own opinions. Yet, everyone knows we don’t have time for that sort of thing- we’ve got television to watch! Quick- somebody turn on Nancy Grace; there has to be a blonde missing somewhere.

In the past, when there was nothing worthwhile to report on, or there was no decent scripted show to display, televisions would simply go black, and Americans would be forced to read, have discussions and sometimes even go outside.

Today things are different. We have infomercials for Snuggies, we have balloon boys and we have captivating social experiments like “The Bachelor” to save us from ourselves.

Many complain that our news media is actually breeding contempt for those with conflicting ideas and hampering our ability to move forward by focusing on persuasion and polemics. While our “salacious” media tends to focus on slogans, some argue, the public misses out on the subtler points of the subject.

Then again, who needs subtlety when the best expert is usually the one who can yell the loudest? Maybe we do miss something when we listen to the Glenn Becks and Rush Limbaughs of the world. Should their suspect opinions influence ours so intensely?

After much thought- or at least as much as the commercial break allowed- a resolution to our media predicament seems possible. The solution to our problem will come only when we recognize the need for… Oops, a friend just Tweeted that ESPN is interviewing Tiger Woods’ kindergarten teacher. Can’t miss that!

Pat Cunnane is a senior majoring in political science and journalism. He may be contacted at pcunnane@themiamihurricane.com.
April 29, 2010


Pat Cunnane

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