How America’s Diet of Current Events Has Shifted
By Ben Ditzel
In an election year, it truly is fascinating to see where people seek out their news and how that correlates with or reflects in their choices, viewpoints, and political leanings. For decades, the primary news sources consisted of the major networks and newspapers. So why are so many new sources like Huffington Post, Breitbart, BuzzFeed, and Slate making their way into the ‘journalistic news’ category instead of remaining in the editorials section of the generic media conglomeration? Because, despite popular assumption, that is exactly what these ‘sources’ are: editorials; not news.
And, following suite, the three major US networks, many newspaper organisations, and cable news networks are now rushing along the same route, perhaps in the name of higher ratings, and ditching the journalistic reporting format for the viewer’s choice in televised editorial tabloids. The most rapid period of change in this standard has been seen in the past 15-20 years and yet through it all, one thing hasn’t changed. The average viewer still processes each story as Gospel truth instead of the persuasive opinion segments that they have become.
As seen in the Washington Post diagram, as of 2014, the moderately far left leaning Colbert Report & Daily Show programmes were actually what some viewers classified as their ‘news source’. No joke here. Now, two years later, those ‘news sources’ have since been replicated by numerous others of identical format and intended audience. But in an entertainment obsessed society, many have seen this as a medium to convey subliminal assertions that easily sink right into the unblinking eye of the subject. All this, as per the graph’s research, from TV entertainment shows that are specifically geared to appeal most to audiences that are about as far left leaning as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck are far right leaning. No, this isn’t some sort of trashy conspiracy theory. It has been well noted that a viewer’s vigilance is rarely lower than when watching comedy or sitcom programmes (which is what these are) and maybe, just maybe, that is why certain noted political figures have appeared on some of these shows in order to light-heartedly teach acceptance of a viewpoint and laugh off or scorn even the mere thought of the opposing mindset. Thus the viewer will arise after the show’s conclusion not yet realising that he or she now looks with an ever increasing distaste or irritation at any viewpoint in opposition to the one subtly relayed in the programme. Over time, the mockery and harsh laughter seem to equate themselves to the newly frowned upon opposition which is now considered foolish, antiquated, or just plain stupid. The seed has successfully been planted.
One source that was surprising to see on the list: Google News. This is not one single news source but rather claims to provide an evenly distributed compilation of all sources, categorised by story. And yet the graph portrayed Google News’ intended audience being somewhat left leaning which might give cause to the increasing difficulty to get conservative outlets to appear in the feed.
And finally FOX News, the agency that so many, particularly on the left, enjoy to berate by classifying it as a lame choice, fake news, or other such cop-outs was, in fact, found to be far closer to the centre of the spectrum than many give it credit for. In fact, judging from the study, if one is looking for an unbiased source as their basis for credibility, FOX News would be more reliable than NPR, The Guardian, Huffington Post, or even The Colbert Report.
But perhaps today’s ‘intellectuals’ are not looking for an unbiased source.
Maraniss, David, and Robert Samuels. “Ranking the Media from Liberal to Conservative, Based on Their Audiences.” Washington Post. The Washington Post. Web. 23 Mar. 2016.