Tuesday, October 19, 2004

The problem with America: Media

So, by now we all know that Jon Stewart was on CNN's Crossfire this past Friday. I just love hearing how much controversy and talk his appearance and ass whooping of the Crossfire hosts has stirred up. The best analysis I have found after abbreviated searching is at dailykos.com.

Not to worry, my analysis of what is wrong with America will return just as soon as I write another portion of it - oh, hell, the media is a problem in America.

I think I'll roll with that one.

Media.

We all know how broad of a term media is. It encompasses all forms from TV, to radio, to newspapers, to internet and other forms such as billboards and basically any form of communication aimed at getting people to read or hear using their eyes or ears - or braille if you happen to be blind.

I work in media and if you read this alot, you'll already know which branch of the media I work in.

I, however, am apart from the 'news' sector. Previously, I was a webmaster in a news operation along with duties much like I have now. I know how the news is handled and I have seen it so manipulated so not to offend advertisers and persons of importance and distinction. That is wrong. The news in today's dollar-driven world is sugarcoated so not to offend.

God forbid we offend anyone.

The news in today's world is watered down. There are features on the network's 22-minute nightly news broadcasts which qualify as entertainment pieces more than news.

The 80s and 90s had news magazines such as 'West 57th Street' on CBS, 4 and sometimes 5 nights a week that contained 'Dateline: NBC', a couple nights of '20/20' on ABC and numerous others which were shorter lived.

In the 21st century we are barraged with 'reality' shows pairing couples up to be married, stunt competitions for cash and a mish-mash of other non-scripted or news programming. Much like gameshows had a brief brush with fame for a couple of years in the pre-9/11 world, we are inundated with unscripted 'reality' entertainment which has no true value.

TV, in general, has been dumbed down for Americans with short attention spans and below-average IQs.

Radio is another story.

Radio, since 1996 (Telecom Act), has been on a steady roll of consolidation and decline. Loss of local flavor is just one facet of consolidation. With music playlists influenced by large media conglomerates with piles of cash for play of a song and a handful of executives saying what will and won't be played, we can drive from city to city across the country and hear basically the same music. I even found this to be true in Hawaii as it sounded like Minnesota.

Thank God that during my formidable years in the 90s when grunge, classic rock and country ruled the FM airwaves I ended up in a group of friends who had appreciation not only for those genres but an impressive collection of CDs which taught me to love punk rock, ska, rap/hip-hop and even a tinge of bubble-gum pop and eventually rock music.

AM radio, from what I have read, used to be a bastion of music. Good luck with that. Now you hear a mix of hundreds of varying of talk shows, most of which seem to be political in nature. In the Twin CIties I can think of only four that play music on the AM dial and one of which is a college-run station. As of this year, finally, the AM talk scene has gotten interesting as differing views have sprung up. A rebirth, of sorts, for the AM dial in the form of the liberal-leaning Air America Radio and the separately-syndicated Ed Schultz Show - both of which I have spoke of before.

This year had seen alot of focus on the AM airwaves but they will likely never return to the home of the communities in which they are based with local information and programming. Those virtues have been lost forever.

Newspapers are next.

Check back later for that riveting account.

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