Wednesday, July 11, 2018 5:07 PM
Ethics have No Promotional Budget (2018Jul11)
Lies are funded—partisanship spends most of its time fund-raising—lobbyists get paid the big bucks—and sensationalism sells. If anything is coming at you from a screen right now, the odds are high that it’s trying to sell you something. The games and movies, too—but those things are their own product—they try to sell you more by showing you pieces of the whole entertainment experience, and reminding you where to go to pay the money.
The other shows include advertising– trying to sell you something—as ‘brief’ interruptions—and they try to appeal to us strongly enough that we’ll endure the interruptions. Here’s where it gets convoluted—a televised (or streamed) news-show with sponsors should be bending over backwards to convince the sponsors of the professional and journalistic ethics of their shows.
One might blithely assume that the sponsors would be afraid to be associated with a new organization that couldn’t be trusted. This, sadly, is not the case. More often, the sponsors are only concerned with the numbers of eyeballs—and, to that end, the shows tend to hunt for sensationalism, violence, and conflict.
Which reminds me: Initially, public broadcasts were required to be, at least in part, providing a community service. That’s why the first TV news broadcasts were scrupulously journalistic.
Edward R. Murrow once famously said, “The speed of communications is wondrous to behold. It is also true that speed can multiply the distribution of information that we know to be untrue.” In his era, TV-news reporters seemed to be taking on the mantel of the printed press—becoming champions of the people’s right to know the facts. (I identify with Murrow—he died of chain-smoking—up there in Pawling, in 1965.)
Then the nature of ‘show business’ soon brought that sort of idealism to a close. It’s lucky that journalism wasn’t named ‘the news business’, or papers would be just as worthless as the video-whores.
And, truth to tell, the papers are not the ethical ivory-towers they once purported to be, if they ever where—the printed word, having ceded the field to the digital, can no longer referee in squabbles of note. The papers, too, have shifted towards partisanship—or appeared to, where reason and common sense makes one side feel obligated to oppose the other side as an evil, rather than a difference of opinion.
My point is: greed, fear, and ignorance have limitless backing—everybody wants a piece of that pie. Fairness and justice go begging.