THE BLOG

24 Hour News Killed Journalism

08/20/2012 05:05 pm ET | Updated Oct 20, 2012

I'm not old enough to remember clearly, but news was simpler when I look back. It wasn't thrown at your face in a barely-edited mess like it is today. Journalists and news people spent a long time on a story and then delivered a fantastic story during the one hour they had to deliver it in the evening.

I went back and watched some old Edward R. Murrow tapes my Dad had in the basement of his house. That's how news is supposed to be. They exposed lies, fought for the truth and uncovered the covered up. They were the soldiers of the free press and fought McCarthyism head on. Each story was poetic, informational, inspiring and well-put with an admirable man smoking a cigarette in front of a darkened background. He didn't need graphics or fancy scrolling distractions to make the story more compelling, because the story was all he needed.

Fast forward to when CNN came about. It seemed fresh and convenient. CNN was the only newsgroup reporting live on the ground when the United States attacked Iraq at the beginning of the Gulf War. They were cooped up in a hotel reporting through a Four-Wire circuit while the Anti-air weapons fired outside the window of their hotel room. It was one of the greatest moments in journalistic history. As stated in the film Live From Baghdad, it was "the journalistic equivalent of landing on the Moon."

It's true that this was an amazing accomplishment. CNN reported war live as it happened and viewers clung to their televisions for every second. All CNN showed were videos from far away showing the Anti-air tracers shooting in the air in night vision, and a map showing three pictures of the reporter's faces while they described what they saw.

CNN was no longer considered the experimental network; it became the basis for everything that followed. New 24-hour networks appeared on the scene and further saturated the market by jacking CNN's format.

Now, major networks are fighting over who is more non-biased than the others. Each network tries to show how they report both sides equally, but it's the worst kept secret ever. It's not even a secret. It's so easy to recognize when something is biased, unless they aim the content at your ideology. Confirmation bias blinds people to the bias because it supports their point of view. Hence, the content is correct to those supporting the bias aimed toward them. To explain it more clearly; pit two fans of a sports team against each other. One of the fans is pessimistic toward the Detroit Tigers, and the other is optimistic toward them. The pessimist thinks they'll have a lackluster season, while the optimist will think they'll have a great season. They will argue back and forth with their views until the optimist predicts they'll win the World Series, and the pessimist thinks they'll lose every game. The more they argue their points, the more extreme their point of view goes toward their bias. This happens on 24-hour news all day. Both sides argue their views to the point that neither listens to the other side. They'll sink into their beliefs even if there is no evidence supporting it. This tends to happen in most belief structures.

Let's take a step back, shall we? Remember when you were in college or high school and had to show references on reports you had to write? Depending on where you went, you probably had to use a certain format for your bibliography. This was the worst section to do when you had to write a paper. I once wrote a 45 page paper in one night because of classmates who had dropped and I had to make up their sections. I could write the paper easily based on the knowledge that I already had depending on the material. But, if I wanted to quote or use someone else's facts, I had to cite it or I'd get caught plagiarizing. It's rare to see big news cite sources. You can watch someone report on what some people are saying in the public, but not say who? I'd get an F in a Community College journalism class if I did that. Yet, it's common place on television? This baffles me.

Serious stories and reporting has been purposefully desensitized to the average viewer. It's why a massacre of thousands in Syria is a secondary story to the girl from Twilight cheating on the guy from Twilight. Serious journalism doesn't get the viewers anymore. Loud music over a waving U.S. flag and flickering lights bring in the audiences. Journalism is now clipped to a sentence that scrolls at the bottom of the screen.