November 17, 2019

What We Call News

Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

The News Channel Network is comprised of over 200 exclusive city sites that feature local and national news, entertainment, weather, and sports for each city. In addition to these domestic news channels, the Network has an additional 300 international news channels covering the news of the major cities and countries of the world. Cable news refers to television channels devoted exclusively to television news broadcasts like CNN, Turner Broadcasting, Fox News, MSNBC, Bloomberg Television, Fox Business Network, ESPN, and on and on. There is not a time of day or night that one cannot access news. 24/7 coverage is universally broadcast.

There is no doubt that to maintain this large of a news function in today’s television environment, the input must be steady and continuous. As a result, the news industry has created “talk shows” that analyze and dissect every aspect of our life. Nationally, there are approximately 425 talk shows with about 40 being on Cable Television. Many of us are familiar with The Kelly File, Anderson Cooper 360, Reliable Sources, Shepherd Smith Reporting and the Bill O’Reilly Show.

But is the news that is reported accurate and is it really news? Is reporting like “Tarek El Moussa just revealed what pushed him for a divorce” or “Kendall Jenner and Nicki Minaj compete to show the most skin” really news? Do I care anything about photos captured at Walmart? How about President Trump calling on Congress to probe his evidence-free claim that Obama wiretapped the Trump Tower? Or that Tom Hanks has sent another espresso machine to the White House press corps.

Out of the approximately 10,000 news stories that you will have read in the past 12 months, it is usually hard to name one that allowed you to make a better decision about a serious matter in your life. Much of today’s news is irrelevant. In a recent study, 80% of the American public believes that reporters chase sensational stories because they think it will sell papers or TV coverage and not because it is important news.

The Brookings Institute began observing what they called the “issue attention cycle” a few years ago in the American media. The cycle is:

  • The news media and public ignore a serious problem for years;
  • For some reason they suddenly notice, declare it a crisis and concoct a solution;
  • Next they realize that the problem will not be easily fixed and it will be costly;
  • They grow angry, then bored;
  • Finally, they resume ignoring the problem.

Five companies today now own the broadcast networks as well as 90% of the top 50 cable networks, 75% of all the prime time programming and control 70% of the prime time television market share. Those same companies own 85% of the top 20 Internet news sites. So while the media is busy covering sensational stories, issues that affect our lives and the whole world receive little attention. Instead, stories about celebrities outnumber stories on the environment and national affairs.

Like most issues today, there is no easy answer. It will take a cultural change to move the media away from the sensational issues to the real world issues that matter to us.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Written by
Donald Wittmer

DONALD WITTMER is a retired business executive who held key roles in the automotive and banking sectors. For a time, he also served as a Fiscal Agency Manager for the Detroit branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. He received his undergraduate degree from Cincinnati's Xavier University, an M.A. in business management from Central Michigan University, and earned certification in bank operations from the School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A husband, father, and grandfather, he teaches part-time at the Kent Place School for Girls in Summit, New Jersey.

View all articles
Written by Donald Wittmer
Click to access the login or register cheese