Distrust in the news media is not simply an extrinsic phenomenon. Recent shock and awe over false claims of deposed MSNBC news anchor, Brian Williams, is a powerful reflection of a much greater, systemic issue. Misplaced trust in corporate news journalism and our inherent need to openly credit any powerful institution, (mistaking power for legitimacy) proves symptomatic of a deeper social discord. The cultural degradation we’ve been experiencing over the last several decades comes with the rising tide of an Information Revolution. Economic, social and technological trends have propelled globalization into new, freak-show heights. The internet, microtechnology, mobile technology and reality TV, have altogether successfully blurred the lines between authenticity and delusion, sucking news media and journalism into its black hole. Personal opinion has made pundits of us all, dominating the news in a need for aggrandizement and melodrama. Even Hollywood, has poked fun at the political underbelly of this social discord, treating Dan Gilroy’s neo-noir crime thriller, Nightcrawler, as a sort of, inflated exposé behind the dismal reality of news broadcasting. Dogged by the relentless self-interest of oligarchical media giants, who control 90% of what we read, watch and listen to, (GE, News-Corp, Disney, Viacom, Time Warner and CBS) profit over news serves as sensationalism in an all-out ratings war. Feeding an addiction to drama by a public jacked up on sports and pop culture, news media distracts from the real, effecting issues of our time, disengaging an otherwise uninformed and ignorant public. While religion controlled the populous through doctrine, language and institution in antiquity, news media labours to controls the majority through distraction and sensationalism in the 21st century.
No longer a safe house for receiving instructional, illuminating information about local and global current affairs, news broadcasting has become a petrie dish of the latest silver screen gossip, crime, and the kind of personal anecdotes one would associate with Reader’s Digest. Instead of galvanizing the public with facts, news broadcasting has turned everything into a hyperbolic human interest story, falling victim to our current cultural shift from realism to surrealism. Where do point the finger in this cat and mouse game? Is it Brian Williams’ fault? MSNBC? Microsoft? Time Warner? Mark Zuckerberg? Or is it us? In this funnel of supply and demand, we are all siphoned into caricatures of our selves; our lives simulated by social media platforms, endless data streaming and the constant uploading of information. Within this divide between dream and reality, there arrives a frightening conclusion: We are no longer able to reconnect. Politics, current global affairs, education, the environment, food, friendships, relationships, ourselves – the world of senses and intellect is fast becoming lost upon the breakwater of our cheap information addiction. We don’t care how we get it, or what we’re getting, so long as it stimulates our central nervous system into a feel-good frenzy. Animated gifs of hamsters playing on pianos, blogs about the latest smoothie diets, viral Youtube videos of men dancing in women’s underwear- this is what we want. After all, what could be more of a downer than hearing about the details of federal election platforms, the global warming crisis, foreign policy, and the war in the middle east? News networks have their work cut out for them. (more…)