A classic example of the ineptitude of the traditional news media is evident with the governor’s race in Texas. As a case study, it is not only fascinating, it is substantive. Specifically, education, availability of water, and equal pay are major issues in the state. Informed Texans must vet the two candidates, State Senator Wendy Davis and Attorney General Greg Abbott, to determine which of them would best fulfill the needs of Texas.
Follow below the fold for more on media failure in this case.
Unfortunately, the news media shows up at candidate rallies in the attempt to find gotchas, seldom reporting the substantive portion of the events. Davis recently visited Houston to lay out how her education plan contrasted with Abbott’s plan. Questions of funding were asked and addressed. Abbott’s use of an anti-woman white nationalist as an education advisor was addressed. Many of Houston’s major traditional news media were present. Yet news from the event for the most part went uncovered.
This is replicated throughout the entire country. The outcome is an uninformed populace and a corrupted politics. The outcome is dangerous, opening the door for support of detrimental local, national and international policies.
In a world made up of more than 7 billion people and 195 countries, why is it that the traditional media tends to have the same stories and the same take on them? Why are there no stories on most countries the United States is actively engaged with until there's a preamble to some military conflict? Why is there such poor context on every issue or story?
The stories one hears about Ukraine are pathetically out of step with reality. Reports by the traditional media about people negatively affected by the Affordable Care Act are generally debunked, sometimes within hours, usually within a few days. The problem is that by the time these stories have been debunked, millions have heard and believed them. Few news consumers are able to connect the original story with the debunked story or even hear about the debunked story.
Who is doing all the debunking? Many times the debunking is done by informed bloggers who feel a patriotic responsibility to inform. They feel a responsibility to correct a seemingly corporate-driven misinformation campaign by the traditional news media.
Chuck Todd is appropriately one of the poster boys of a delegitimized traditional news media. In an interview with Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, he worried that “There are concerted campaigns by activists …. who actually are trying to delegitimize the press. That is their goal in order to make the activists the first place people go.” Yet Todd abdicates his journalistic responsibility when in discussing misinformation about the Affordable Care Act he said: “What I always love is people say, “Well, it’s you folks’ fault in the media.” No, it’s the president of the United States’ fault for not selling it.”
Was it not the traditional media’s responsibility to research health care systems throughout the world when Republicans lied about the failures of health care systems in Canada, Great Britain and Europe in general? Bloggers did this. Was the traditional news media not responsible for fact checking the stories of people who claimed to be helped or hurt by Obamacare? Bloggers did. Was it not the traditional news media’s responsibility to research the coal ash corporate and political corruption in North Carolina? Bloggers did.
If one is tasked or self-tasked to be the entity informing citizens, one has the responsibility to do it truthfully with all the nuances it entails. One cannot be the medium used by politicians and/or the corporatocracy to indoctrinate. That is what members of the traditional news media have become.
Reputable bloggers now have the responsibility to fact check not only the politician and corporations, but the traditional media and false bloggers on the take. In that light, the traditional media is but a burden, not a boon, to understanding issues.
News of the future must be crowd-sourced. No longer must Americans allow the few to be the arbiters of news or reality. It is time that the traditional news media is deemed irrelevant. They are. Bloggers have asserted their worth, and it is time that all of America is made aware as well.