Mediate breaks down all the different important stories Al Jazeera America squeezed into the 14 minute space rival network CNN devoted to it’s ongoing obsession with the missing Malaysian airliner yesterday. Check it out and be angry.
There was a time when broadcasting news was the responsibility of every network in exchange for their free use of the public airwaves. It technically still is. The networks have to devote a certain amount of their broadcast day to “news,” but over the years the definition of that word has changed dramatically. These days, even on channels supposedly devoted to the cause, news is just fact-based entertainment. Drama and attention getting headlines win out over thoughtful analysis of difficult to digest but vital information. Why talk about the ins and outs of policy debates in Washington when you can glue your audience to the tube with breathless speculation on a missing airplane?
Given a choice, people tend to gravitate toward that sensationalism, but if you give a little kid the choice between ice cream and vegetables for dinner, the kid will pick ice cream every time. That doesn’t mean it’s good for them. As a supposedly free country in an increasingly global world, it’s more important than ever that we as citizens are armed with the information we need to keep this democracy thing going.
More than ever we need a vital outlet for news reporting, but mostly all we have is the Left/Right MSNBC/FOX echo-chamber singing to the choirs on both ends of the political spectrum while CNN keeps you up to date on the disaster or celebrity trial of the minute. Don’t even get me started on the televised crime blotter weather and sports report that is the disgrace of most local news.
Luckily Al Jazeera America is carrying the torch of real news. They’re not big on personality, but if you get your information from TV, it’s really the only viable option among the channels dedicated to news. Though it’s not 24 hour news, PBS also deserves a nod for Democracy Now, Bill Moyers, Newshour and Washington Week are all.
Check out Al Jazeera America’s website to find the channel on your TV (347 on DirecTV)