September 21, 2015 by Liberty
I don’t usually keep up with the recent events in the news. While I used to be one of the good old news junkies, these days I tend to try and spend my time learning things that are more productive than that. While I have a general idea about the big issues, I don’t tend to worry too much about certain details because I can almost guarantee in 90% of the cases that whatever the media is discussing has absolutely nothing to do with anything important (beyond a small circle.) It’s sure as hell not relevant to progress.
If it were, the media wouldn’t be mentioning it in the first place. The media spends more time distracting citizens from anything important than educating them. They’ll spend 24 hour coverage on a single death while the murder of hundreds of people get’s a two minute segment in the late night hours. The survival of these media companies depends on this distraction strategy.
Yellow journalism sells.
News sources depend on highly emotional issues to sell stories. In the old age of “yellow journalism” news agencies went as far as making huge exaggerations to stories to sell newspapers. They would put sensational headlines on minor news stories and act like the sky was falling to get buyers for the paper. Today it tends to be more subtle from pure necessity.
The news can’t just go making up stories completely. There are too many alternative sources that can disprove their false information. That being said, they can still cherry pick stories that pick whatever emotional agenda they’re hoping to fulfill. Typically, this agenda tends to be an emotional story about a brutal evil versus an underdog.
Today, virtually every major story in the news presents this narrative. Look at the way the news presented the Michael Brown story, the Eric Garner story, and even the Freddie Gray story. Now, I’m not making the case to believe anything in any of these cases. All I’m saying is the media presents each one of these stories with the same narrative. They play the same emotional cards. They tell the same story. And they completely ignore much more important issues globally in order to push an emotional yellow agendas.
Now… I’m not implying these deaths aren’t important to the world. They are. I’m just implying they’re calling cops racists for killing one or two black men instead of calling cops racist for killing all the black men they kill. Not only that but they’re not calling cops racist for sending a quarter of all young black men to prison.
I’m sorry but if this were truly trying to discuss a serious issue of deaths and suffering caused by cops, these damn stories have nothing to do with it. They’re evidence for a serious case but the media presents them as the final case.
This is not the media supporting the underdog. Even assuming the basic story is true, this is the media undermining the “underdogs” attempt to make real change by creating symbolic progress. It’s a distraction intended to make money and lull masses in the long term. (One racist cop is going to go to prison and it’s going to be heralded as a major step forward…)
Of course, this cherry picking can help the media find whatever story it wants to tell. There is one thing that I can always guarantee. The story the media is telling will not be against the government.
Freedom of the press does not exist in the United States. Sure, some places have some freedoms but it’s virtually all limited severely by the government. There are licenses required. There are permits required. Media sources cannot use the mainstream airwaves to tell a story without first getting permission from the government. Instantly, that creates a huge incentive problem. The government is the final editor for virtually every mainstream source today.
Not only that though. It also tends to be the first source for every mainstream story today. Politicians don’t do interviews for everyone. The president doesn’t have an open press question him. Politicians pick and choose the press that covers them. That means, they have every incentive to select people that would treat them well.
On top of that, most media stories today come straight off of government press releases. News agencies do not gather information as much as they receive press releases. When it comes to major political stories, they get those press releases directly from the government. Of course, anything from government tends not to get fact checked. (WMDs!!!!!!!! IRAQ HAS WMDS!!!!!!! AHHHH!!!!! SCARY SCARY!)
Sure, the press has the freedom to superficially attack nips and tips of the government but it doesn’t have the power to fundamentally attack the system without risking the loss of their rights to the airwaves and the loss of their ability to contact major government sources. Ultimately, mainstream media lives and dies with the government.
It can make a few cops look bad but lets face it, that doesn’t change the system a bit. In fact, it just encourages more government oversight of local police forces and less accountability.
Framing The Debate
If the media is covering an issue then one thing is guaranteed. The media is going to be pushing a certain agenda. That agenda, usually is to sell more papers, ads, and similar profit making enterprises. Sure, government has some oversight but these are still semi-private companies seeking profits. That being said, the media regularly frames debates in ways that completely distort the real problem.
Look at Edward Snowden’s leak for example. Instantly, the US media was dealing with the story. Sure it wasn’t a Michael Brown treatment but they invested some energy in it. If the media is so corrupt, why would they cover it, you might ask. Well… they didn’t start it. As with most major government problems, the stories are first published by non-mainstream sources (or international sources.) Most of these stories are ignored but in this case the story exploded. Everyone in the first world was hearing stories about it. The mainstream media had to cover it.
That being said, right from the start they just repeated the government narrative. The media claimed Snowden was selling the information to China. The media claimed he was giving it to China. The media claimed Snowden was costing American lives. Of course, when all those accusations were proven bullshit, the media didn’t mention any retraction. Still… today, in America, some people still think he sold information to China.
The media instantly reframed the debate by repeating the government press releases as fact or ignoring fundamental parts of the story. This happens all the time. Some examples: Dread Pirate trying to hire an assassin. Michael Brown’s witnesses being ignored. IRS didn’t “target” conservatives. And of course, who can forget their old favorite, WMD’s in Iraq. (It’s like a media greatest hits album.)
That is how much the media cares about the real story. How much of this is corruption and how much of this is just sensationalist bullshit? Who cares because either way, you can’t trust it.
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