What happened to real news?


In my long, diverse career, I have had the privilege of meeting and working with some of the best news and media people in the business. I have provided content for Pulitzer Prize-winning publications and even earned some award nominations myself, in part thanks to my association with so many talented colleagues.

But, and I admit it freely, there are times when I am thoroughly embarrassed to be a member of the media in any capacity. Most recently, I feel that way regarding the nauseating, continuous coverage of the Kardashian “family” and their talentless train wreck.

I just don’t get it. Am I missing something here? I keep hearing them referred to as “superstars,” and, for the life of me, I can’t think of any reason they have even come close to earning that moniker.

But my point here is not to rant about these ridiculously out-of-touch people, but to ask my colleagues, what happened to the news and stories about real people? The world is filled with incredible stories of success, survival, family, and even plenty of dysfunction, if that’s your thing, so it’s not like there aren’t better subjects out there.

Bear in mind, I’m not referring to tabloids, celebrity blogs or grocery store rags, but media outlets who claim to have journalistic integrity and brag about their commitment to bringing real news to the forefront. My favorite example of this kind of hypocrisy has got to be CBS, which now uses the social media hashtag “#newsisback;” really guys?

Recently, CBS News social media and even their morning show, which is advertised as, “responsible, intelligent information,” reported details about a Kardashian baby announcement. First, who cares? Second, can someone explain to me how something like that qualifies as “real” news?

One of CBS’s early morning competitors, NBC’s Today Show, can’t seem to get enough of the ridiculous Kardashians. This is primarily because E! Entertainment Television – which carries the Kardashian reality show – and NBC TV are both owned by NBCUniversal.

But, although I think they spend too much time on this nonsense, they get a bit of a pass because their program is more entertainment than news. That is, the format allows for more light-hearted stories, entertainment information, and so on.

However, in the case of CBS This Morning, if they are going to spend their ad budget slamming competitors while claiming to be the leading news resource, they need to put their money where their mouth is, so to speak. If the producers and executive bean counters (because that’s who makes the real decisions) want to actually “be” the news leaders, they need to drop this stuff and stay focused. Let the cable entertainment shows promote this junk and give the audience what you promised.

As mentioned before, looking more closely, you find that media giants like CBS and NBC are connected to all manner of media, from publishing companies to film studios. The news programs are used to promote these endeavors and make more money.

For example, say some actor has a book coming out by “publisher A,” which happens to be owned by “media company B,” which produces “morning TV show C.” How better to promote the book and subsequent movie and rake in more cash?

Speaking of bean counting, a big chunk of the responsibility for this problem has to lie at the feet of the consuming public because if they weren’t “buying,” the media wouldn’t be “selling.” Unfortunately, it’s a bit of a self-propelling monster because if stuff like this were never aired in the first place, the public would never have seen it to demand more, and the cycle goes on.

I regularly struggle with content myself, albeit on a much smaller level, but I do my best to consider my audience. I ask myself what they would want to know and how my information will help them in their day-to-day lives. So should the big guys.

The production of news media is big business with lots of complex nooks and crannies, and, honestly, no one wants to see how the sausages are made. All I am asking is that news media practice what they preach.

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