I’ve been a news junkie my entire life, even as a small child I would watch Walter Cronkite. As I got older, I read the New York Times with interest every morning. Early in the morning I would go into McDonalds before work and have a leisurely breakfast, spending thirty or forty-five minutes just reading. It was a good way to start the day: Alone, with my thoughts and that paper.
I also spent much of my life listening to National Public Radio’s Morning Edition. It’s the most popular radio program in America so I suppose I wasn’t alone. I know we have readers from several countries so perhaps a description is in order: Morning Edition is something of a radio News Magazine with a twist. They spend fifteen or twenty minutes on a single, major story and then will spend the next ten minutes on some random guy who researches flowers in the desert. Over time, you’ll learn about almost anything you can imagine.
Of course, things have changed and today consuming serious main stream journalism makes you a liberal. I still can’t get past the fact that about half of all Americans get their News from Facebook. Facebook? What the hell is wrong with you people?
In the US, Facebook has fixed it where they are not considered a content producer, so they are not responsible for all the crazy crap they put on people’s computers. Think about that: Facebook decides what stories you will see, the exact same as the BBC, but they are not responsible for anything because they didn’t actually write it. So, when ABC runs a story on their website filed by a local affiliate, the Network is responsible. But if Facebook sticks some POS on their website saying that spoons will stick to you if you get vaccinated, they are not responsible.
I never get news stories on my Facebook wall. Facebook watches my computer and knows I’ll just scroll right past their hate-filled garbage. In other words, Facebook is absolutely responsible for what I see on their website. And they know it.
This is no small matter. Years ago, I used to build relational databases and when it comes to the data that’s put into the database, the saying is: “Garbage in; garbage out.” The human brain is the exact same.
How can you expect someone to make an informed vote if they have bad information? All around the world, people are fed crap for news and they support authoritarian leaders. Here, stick this spoon on your forehead and let me know how that recount in Arizona really turned out.
Watch, read or listen to news?
There’s a song ‘Video killed a radio star’ by the Buggles, poetically paying tribute to the new technologies coming into our lives, transforming the broadcasting formats and causing respective changes in audience media patterns.
I found out that it was released in 1980, just a year before the beginning of the MTV revolution. Well, the trend had already been there. The very same year, 1980, marked the beginning of another informational revolution with the introducing of CNN. Launched by Ted Turner, it was amidget in the news world back in the day. But then it broke the hegemony of the Big Three – ABC, NBC and CBS. It soon became a media giant. The War in the Gulf in 1991 tremendously helped achieve this status with Peter Arnett’s legendary live reports from the roof of his hotel in Baghdad under the allied missile strikes. That was the new exciting reality: the war unfolding right in your dining room. Still safe and far away. What a show.
Both MTV and CNN set up the new informational landscape and people’s behavior: it was now all about watching.
Watching everything: music, news, shows, etc. In show business the term VJ has come into context with its own stars in the world of news, too.
You could now get the news and music 24/7. Sure, it was a huge milestone in the history of globalization.
Now, with the whole world online getting right into your gadget, it is all about mixing: you read it, you watch it and you listen to it at the same time.
But you don’t read papers anymore, you watch the TV reports online and, surely, you only occasionally listen to the radio.
I love the Echo of Moscow radio station – I love radio in general – but I only listen to its FM version when driving. Mostly, I reach out to its website and read it in my smartphone or laptop. Sometimes I listen to its online broadcasting channel.
It could be surprising but I have to time to watch the news: I only do it time to time. Yep, I don’t watch news on TV.
So, my choice would not be either one but all three options combined. Why? I just do it the way I find suits best to me and this is mixing it all together and choosing depending on the moment.
Well, video almost killed a radio star. It would go on now in its online reincarnation.
Watch, read or listen to news?
I happily use all three to catch up with what is going on in the world, but I am extremely obsessive about the source of my information.
Having been employed by the BBC for over two decades, I have an obvious bias towards this organisation, because during that time, I was always content that the checks and balances that were vigorously and conscientiously applied before any story was broadcast or published were sufficiently robust. And, ten years after my retirement, I am equally happy that this is still the case.
Of course, I cannot pretend that the BBC does not make mistakes, but the lengths to which it goes to protect the values of impartiality are immense. Where some mistakes occur is in the editorial decisions that decide what is in the “public interest”.
For instance, just yesterday, the legendary BBC TV “Six o’clock News”, led not with what I considered to be the most important story, the one which saw Russian paratroopers having been sent to Kazakhstan to help “stabilise” the country, but instead decided that the story of an overpaid playboy sportsman, who was denied access to Australia because he was unvaccinated, was more justified in having the top billing in its flagship bulletin.
But you and I can argue about this until the cows come home. As long as the stories are accurate and can be trusted, that’s usually good enough for me.
And don’t even start to give me the “BBC is biased” argument. I will argue with you all year long about that. Whatever your point of view, you will find fault with anything that doesn’t agree with your agenda. Get over it.
So that six o’clock news is a must-have for me to watch. During the day, I read the BBC News website, knowing that it is pretty much up-to-date, certainly more than any newspaper can claim to be, and during the night, my iPad is giving me BBC Radio 4, where there are news bulletins every 30 minutes.
So, all three are used by me every single day. I despair at folk who think Fox News or even, can you believe this, Facebook, are trustworthy sources of global news. What the hell is this world coming to?