Every day in the year 2020 feels like 10 verses in an awful "We Didn't Start The Fire" millennial-edition remake. Between the global pandemic, Trump's impeachment (yes, that was this year), the international civil rights movement sparked by the murder of George Floyd, science deniers having public meltdowns, women sharing their stories of how famous men assaulted them, and MURDER HORNETS, keeping up with everything going down during the paradigm shift is exhausting.
On top of absorbing all this anxiety-inducing information, as consumers of free "news," we have to actively check our sources to make sure they aren't bot-generated propaganda. What happened to the days of news legends like Walter Cronkite, who was dubbed "the most trusted man in America?" When the hell did our news feed become such a mess?
Reepealing The Fairness Doctrine Didn't Help
The alleged "good ole days" to which so many MAGA supporters want to return doesn't include some of their faves, like shock jocks and political commentators. During the early days of the television, only three national broadcasting companies (CBS, NBC, and ABC. Fox was still a twinkle in Satan's eye), along with local newspapers, were the only sources of news -- and television was quickly becoming the American favorite. Just shove the facts into our ears and eyes! I don't have time to read and process words that could impact our lives immensely!
Pre-TV, the FCC put together something called the Mayflower Doctrine, which made it necessary for radio news programs to present facts and both sides of controversial topics. In 1949, the FCC repealed Mayflower and replaced it with the Fairness Doctrine. A personal attack rule was later added in 1967. If a news anchor called out anyone, be it a local politician or an unruly neighbor, "during the discussion of a controversial issue, the station must notify the person within one week and offer a reasonable time for a response." It was like Maury, but with noticeably less parental tests and brawls.
But as media companies turned into media conglomerates, making every vertical profitable became more important. The Fairness Doctrine was repealed in 1987. News branches of media conglomerates were dead weight profit-wise, so producers who were in charge of money-makin' entertainment divisions took over the news verticals. The lines between news and entertainment began to blur, especially in the talk radio world. Shock jocks like Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern crawled out of their respective swamps and helped make the "this is my opinion, so deal with it, turd," form of entertainment wildly popular. Cable networks started putting together their own one-sided political entertainment shows. Even though the Fairness Doctrine wouldn't hold any power over cable networks like Fox News, its repeal was like the butterfly effect that gave us a reason to dread family reunions.
Rainbow33/ShutterstockThat, and the fact that Nana's cooking hasn't improved since the Jell-O-with-mayonnaise days.
The Lack of Ad Revenue Is Killing Local Journalism
"Local journalism" may call to mind soft human interest stories about cats stuck in trees, but the truth is local journalists do a lot of important work, most of which -- aside from updates on Mr. Whiskers, who is still considered armed and dangerous --- has nothing to do with cats. Boston Globe reporters uncovered the sex abuse scandal of the Boston Catholic Archdiocese, which paved the way for investigations in other Archdioceses. Investigative journalist Julie K. Brown of Miami Herald helped expose Jeffrey Epstein. The Los Angeles Times uncovered the misappropriation of public funds in Bell, California, after looking into Bell's City Manager salary, which was a whopping $787,637 a year.