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The box office effect
The news used to be about our civic duty and informing citizens. Today, it seems like it has become entertainment, prioritizing viewership, sensationalism, profit and keeping people hooked.
The news used to be about our civic duty and informing citizens.
Today, it seems like it has become entertainment, prioritizing viewership, sensationalism, profit and keeping people hooked; most of it accomplished using fear tactics.
Our experience watching the news nowadays is akin to watching a thrilling movie; it's full of jarring scenes, twists, and surprising plots, but unlike a film, it never ends.
Ever since the shift toward ratings, the business model for many news networks is about covering and presenting what influences and impacts their ratings the most. Sayings such as "if it bleeds, it leads" or "we’ve got to be first" come from that precise issue. If a story isn't deemed to have the positive rating impact a network seeks, it's likely to get tossed or covered much less, even if it has significance.
News media regard their ratings as the most important metric and has beautifully crafted a series of systems and structures that ensures its success, but at what cost?
When a singular metric becomes our primary focus and goal for success, our decisions are gravely influenced, rarely for the better.
In its current state, does news media still play a relevant and, more importantly, valuable role?
Similarly, Seth Godin asked, "would it be possible to be an informed citizen without it? Even more so: Is it possible to be an informed citizen with it?"
If ratings continue to be the main driver for coverage, it will simply lead to more sensationalism and away from good journalism.
Everyone deserves accurate reporting that aims to provide facts and information devoid of bias and narratives that purposely lead to fear, anxiety and frustrations, and delivered in a way that enables us to learn about ourselves, others and the world.
For a deeper look, listen to this podcast episode with Jon Stewart on the Problem.
Sparknotion – Think Differently.