The dreary weather yesterday got us hunkered down and brooding, especially after reading a couple of things about media bubbles having been created out of the decline of the local papers. There’s a problem with how people find out about what’s important if they don’t live in a big city. This all seemed poignant, living in a small city where the hometown, local-family-owned paper just got swallowed up by a company nobody seems to think much of (oh great gravy, they published a headline last week with the word “tree” misspelled)! THESE are the times that try mens’ souls.
After we pointed and laughed about Delegate Afzali going all Girls Gone Wild (via email) on her NyQuil, this leapt out from the AV Club. The piece focuses on the lasting effects of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which brought us Clear Channel hell on the radio, offensively mindless crap on the television news, and is (party bonus!) also the reason that either Comcast or Verizon is taking actual years from people’s lives as hostages of their monopolistic services. All the good news that’s fit to print, eh?
…once corporations realized they could make money off the news—rather than just viewing it as a public service—they started “making that a joke, too.” As he notes, the move made it so “they could still put on what’s called a news show, but it’s mostly just fluff and trivia and 23-year-olds spewing out talking points that they read on a teleprompter, having no idea what the [redacted!] they’re talking about, fortunately for them.”
-Communications scholar Robert McChesney (AV Club, August 11, 2016)
Furthermore…AV Club goes on to provide this explanation:
That kind of mindless newsreading has real consequences, too. As Common Cause notes in its position paper, “In 2002, more than half of TV stations in the nation’s top 50 markets completely ignored state and congressional elections in their highest rated local news programs in the weeks leading up to those elections, with large station owners offering the least election coverage of all.” McChesney takes it further, saying, “What little coverage there is, is mostly gossip, spin, and speculation, or basically what’s spoon-fed to them by party elites and insiders and big shots accepting all their biases as the appropriate way to view the world. It’s impossible to exaggerate just how nutritionless this so-called journalism is.” In other words, viewers of most stations get lots of Donald Trump news, but almost nothing about city council elections or even state representatives.
The mention of gossip and spoon feeding from party elites seemed so stinkin’ much like what we were just roasting Afzali for in her silly email. Y’all know we are the first to acknowledge that we are A.) not journalists and B.) not unbiased. We have concerns about where the flow information is coming from. We did before the troll news revolution, but looking at all this we hope people will expand their number of reasons to be skeptical about the quality of their information.
As for Local Yokel’s role in the scene, we were delighted by a fantastic discussion on 1A yesterday about censorship and speech on college campuses. The 1A topic also has local pertinence just at the moment since the Hood College Republicans made a story board of the least sophisticated conservative talking points they could brainstorm, allegedly as some sort of PR misfire. Fly your freak flags, we always say! Better the devil you know… However, the highlight from 1A that made our little Local Yokel hearts swell was when Frederick Douglass’s thinking was cited on how to best attack terrible ideas:
At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. O! had I the ability, and could reach the nation’s ear, I would, to-day, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.
Well, we’re on board with that. And we are grateful that The Frederick Extra is up and running to keep us informed.