As a big fan of sleep, I developed a trick to get me out of bed in the mornings. I would browse through five or six different mainstream media websites and would read further into the headlines that piqued my interest. What I set myself up for, unfortunately, was the subsequent bad mood and loss of faith in humanity that followed.
The puzzle seemed unsolvable. “Why do they mostly cover terrible news?” I asked myself, without reaching a clear answer. As committed as I am to developing and keeping bad habits, I could no longer keep that one. It had started to affect my outlook on life and my interactions with those around me. It had turned me into a negative person, focused more on what was reported online than what was happening and impacting my neighborhood, positively or otherwise.
The News Makes Us Feel Overwhelmed and Powerless
One key aspect of it was the fact that most of those terrible events were happening outside of my control. There were no actions I could take that would help alleviate the problem. There were no friends I could call, no action groups I could join, no measures I could take to make things right. This created anxiety and ensured I stayed glued to the news, searching for an update, anything that would give that topic closure and get it out of my mind. And in the odd chance I’d get closure, I was thrown immediately onto the next outrage, the next breaking news. A never-ending cycle of information addiction.
I found myself checking the news multiple times a day.
I found myself checking the news multiple times a day. I interacted more with my phone than with people. I spent half my day grinding my teeth at the newest injustice. I was constantly being made to believe that the world is a place of non-stop horrors, and, only if lucky, would I stumble on the occasional, and very rare, piece of good news.
I am one to ask questions, however, and while that drove my mother crazy in my early years, I found that, as an adult, this is a very good skill to have. I wondered if the world was made of nothing but evil people doing evil to one another, so I got out there and volunteered in the community. I introduced myself and engaged in talks with my neighbors. I sought in-person interactions with others. I tried to listen more than to talk, and I noticed I was less inclined to read the news and more willing to spend actual time developing and improving my community to the best of my ability. The cycle had been broken.
News Media Is a Business First and Foremost
What I had failed to realize prior to that moment was that, much like any other industry, the media is very much a for-profit business. It definitely gets dicey here, because their product is supposedly information, which they would want to keep as unbiased and of high quality as possible to service their consumers. Or so you would think.
Their customers aren’t actually the viewers.
We, however, don’t really pay the media every time we watch TV. They don’t owe it to us to match their product with our expectations, because in fact, their customers aren’t actually us. The customers are the advertisers who pay millions of dollars for a few seconds of air time. The more viewers the channel has, the more money it can get from advertisers. The media actually plays on our every instinct to get us addicted to their broadcasting, so they can keep being a profitable company.
They’ll promote any “cause” as long as it’s what the advertisers want.
It doesn’t stop at sensationalism and sound bites or deceiving headlines. Depending on the type of media, it descends all the way into madness. And if their customers — the advertisers — have particular branding needs, then the networks will do their best to match them, as questionable and biased as they might be, since, well, it’s all about the dollars.
You’d think that professionals of journalism would refuse to be biased, but the reality is that much of said journalism is simply activism in disguise. In fact, only 7% of journalists identify as Republicans. An industry in which 93% of professionals lean in one direction will most likely be biased. If you think they’re not, I have a beach-front plot of land on Mars I’d like to sell you.
They’re not interested in integrity, but audience numbers.
Trust in the media has been at an all-time low because they disregard social responsibility. They disregard their role in society and simply push whatever narrative is in their best interest, even if they must correct their reporting at a later point in time when publicly called out. Oftentimes, they refuse to even acknowledge the blatant error, and flip flop on their reporting according to the hottest political and/or special interest trends.
It has gotten to the point where neither side trusts the networks.
One example of how inaccurate reporting can be socially dangerous and divisive is those who claim Trump stole the 2016 election. In fact, 91% of all reporting on Trump is negative. The “free” press is losing its credentials due to their bad reporting, even to those who lean left. It has gotten to the point where neither side trusts the networks, and it’s not without cause.
A Free Press Isn’t Insurance against Tyranny
The press is a tool of propaganda, which is needed whenever someone in power wants to push their narrative to gain popular support. Mass manipulation of the viewers while engaging in psychological tactics to keep us glued to their content is an attack on Americans and especially those more vulnerable, such as children. Just because no government agency is forcing media companies to report news in a certain way (as seen in the U.S.S.R. or North Korea) doesn’t mean the press isn’t complicit in promoting propaganda.
The press is a tool of propaganda.
It’s hard to find a more discredited industry than the mainstream media today. When they realized that servicing special interests was much more profitable than objective journalism, they abandoned any commitment to unbiased, accurate reporting. It’s a business that remains largely unregulated but enjoys constitutional protections such as the first amendment, only to push harmful content that works to make our society more divided and violent by the day.
Free Thought Is the Antidote to an Un-Free Press
There’s a reason why Hitler, just like many other dictators, had a designated propaganda officer and department. Propaganda is effective to manage public perception and get us to accept what they’re trying to push. It’s the go-to tool used by evil, power hungry people, even if they didn’t participate directly in the democratic process of being elected to public office. There are those with money and power who remain behind the scenes pulling all the strings. We don’t know their names or their agenda, which turns this into an especially dangerous situation.
A simple way to render them powerless is to question everything. Read independent and different publications. Get out of your bubble. Know how to recognize signs of manipulation. Get out there and see things with your own eyes. They stand to win by broadcasting our misery and making it seem like that’s all we are. But we are more than that, and the first step to believing it and seeing it is turning off the TV.