News: the new reality television

Wikipedia: Chad J. McNeeley

Wikipedia: Chad J. McNeeley

According to the first amendment to the United States constitution, the government cannot infringe upon any individual or organization’s ability to express their views, in whatsoever manner they deems fit. That freedom extends to news organizations and other media outlets. The primary benefit offered by this provision in the constitution is that we cannot devolve into a government-controlled Orwellian dystopia. The primary pitfall is that with no real regulation enforced on media, we still descend into Orwellian madness, now controlled by social forces and status quo rather than anything so direct as a tyrannical government.

This lack of regulation leads to tabloids advertising blatantly fabricated spectacle, flagrantly biased news stations acting only to insult rival political groups (cough cough Fox News) and other ‘false prophets’ tangled in such a mess that occasionally comedy arises as the most accurate source of news.

Comedy should never be the most accurate source of current news.

Most media outlets choose to broadcast inaccurate, exaggerated and misleading content because ultimately, the media are a consumer business. The more people view a given piece of media, the more lucrative that piece is to its creators; the more outrageous and spectacular a piece of media is, the more people choose to view it.

Conversely, people like feeling like their worldview is correct. Being wrong makes them uncomfortable, so they like reassurance. That leads many people to align with media outlets that already agree with their views, no matter how unfounded, making popular views the most lucrative for media to represent, regardless of the accuracy of the said views or media pieces.

There is a problem here. There should be two different kinds of media: one for entertainment and one for information, with a clear distinction between the two. Instead, both kinds are presently blended together into an uneven mix in which no given example provides any reliable indication as to its own reliability as an informant. Information media such as news programs have a responsibility to ignore financial gain and focus on informing the populace as to current and important events, but they have no incentive whatsoever to do so.

Perhaps the first-amendment, granting the right to freedom of the press is obsolete, if at all it was ever a good idea. Perhaps the federal government should create regulations for news media in order to enforce accuracy and reliability. For all the problems entailed in that course of action, no level of Orwellian shenanigans could possibly make the news media more useless than they already are.

Alternatively, perhaps there should be news media sponsored and run by the federal and local governments, acting as the only official news media, and all current media should be left alone as unofficial and biased but perfectly legal alternatives or, at worst, entertainment.