15
   

Why Expect Solid Information from Commercial Networks?

 
 
Thomas
 
Reply Thu 12 Dec, 2013 10:22 am
This week, my Facebook page has been lighting up with petitions to pressure Clear Channel into firing Rush Limbaugh for spreading lies and hatred. Also, people are outraged over MSNBC's firing of Martin Bashir. If you're one of these people, I have a question for you: What did you expect? And I don't just mean, what did you expect in these cases. Why would you expect solid information and agreeable personnel choices from commercial networks in the first place?

Consider the relationship you're in when you listen to Clear-Channel stations or watch MSNBC or Fox. These are for-profit companies, in business to sell time slots to advertisers. They are not in business to inform you. To the contrary, informing you is a cost to them of doing their real business. Their financial incentive, then, is to minimize this cost, just as they would minimize any other. Indeed, it's not just their financial incentive, it's their fiduciary duty. Investors may well be able to sue your information providers' CEOs if they spent too much money on informing you*. These are for-profit companies, and you are not their customer. You are their merchandise.

If that's a problem for you, there are better relationships to have with your information provider. For example, you could get your information from a nonprofit of which you are a member. That's what NPR and PBS offer you. Or you could get it from for-profit companies of which you are a customer. That's what the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and other traditional newspapers offer. Although these models have their flaws too, they both beat the crap out of being a for-profit corporation's merchandize.

So why bother petitioning networks? In news as elsewhere in life, you tend to get what you pay for. You're not paying anything to Fox, MSNBC, or Clear Channel, so your rational expectation is to get no information at all. If you value solid information, find news providers you can have a grown-up relationship with, and pay them. In the long run, that's the only way to change something.

__________________
* I am not an expert in corporate law, so take this bit with a grain of salt.
 
RABEL222
 
  2  
Reply Thu 12 Dec, 2013 01:48 pm
@Thomas,
Which is why I get most of my news from my computer and check the TV news with my computer. I dont trust radio stations for the reasons you just stated about TV news.
0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  2  
Reply Thu 12 Dec, 2013 01:53 pm
@Thomas,
The NEWSHOUR on PBS is my favorite source, Thomas. The NY Times is high on my list, but these days I can only get 10 - 15 articles on-line before they start hassling me.

The Star-Ledger is okay...but only okay.

The other stuff like the ones you mentioned...I use as secondary sources...and always with several grains of salt.

tsarstepan
 
  3  
Reply Thu 12 Dec, 2013 02:02 pm
@Thomas,
They fired the best doctor of all the Star Trek TV franchises?
http://mimg.ugo.com/201005/43423/cuts/bashir-presume_288x288.jpg
0 Replies
 
revelette
 
  3  
Reply Fri 13 Dec, 2013 07:10 am
@Thomas,
Well, I sure have been out of the loop for a while. I like Bashir and am sorry to see him go. Not really surprised about Baldwin. I have to admit that MSNBC has been so obvious in these last few years of their political leaning that they almost the other side of the coin of fox news with the exception of Hardball and Morning Joe. I haven't watched or read any news in ages.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  7  
Reply Fri 13 Dec, 2013 07:14 am
This is exactly what is happening with Facebook. The advertisers are the customers, you are the product Facebook is selling to them.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Dec, 2013 03:46 pm
@Thomas,
Was that your sermon on the mount?

I still think sometimes it's worth pressuring the bastards. The same money making reality can be used against them.
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Sat 14 Dec, 2013 10:58 am
@dlowan,
dlowan wrote:
Was that your sermon on the mount?

It was, and I'm feeling sort of let down that I'm not getting crucified more. I thought I had done my best to provoke conservatives and liberals alike. Next up: Lose more weight so I can walk on water.

dlowan wrote:
I still think sometimes it's worth pressuring the bastards. The same money making reality can be used against them.

Easy for you to say in ABC-land. Which reminds me: Getting news as a service from a republic in which you are a citizen isn't a bad relationship to be in, either. I have gotten so Americanized that I forgot about it in my original post.
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 14 Dec, 2013 03:01 pm
@Thomas,
Current right wing federal government is attempting to destroy the ABC again. Sigh. Lost track of how many petitions I have signed, pollies I have emailed etc.

It's a tropism.....like megalomaniac dictators invading Russia, fading empires invading Afghanistan, birds flying south even though there is global warming, Italian governments imploding, Berlusconi never going to prison, W inappropriately touching Merkel.....well, you get the idea.

I'll crucify you if it'll make you happy.
0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  2  
Reply Sun 15 Dec, 2013 08:02 pm
@Frank Apisa,
Frank Apisa wrote:

The NEWSHOUR on PBS is my favorite source, Thomas. The NY Times is high on my list, but these days I can only get 10 - 15 articles on-line before they start hassling me.

The Star-Ledger is okay...but only okay.

The other stuff like the ones you mentioned...I use as secondary sources...and always with several grains of salt.




So you get your news from reliably liberal sources.

It's pretty tough then to take seriously any criticism you might offer about conservative sources.
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Dec, 2013 08:21 pm
@Thomas,
Well, one might argue that news sources that are not subject to the extortionist efforts of their viewers/readers are likely more reliable than those that are.

However, you have presented a false premise.

For-profit news sources, without specific subsriptions, rely on advertising revenues. It's a bit disengenuous to suggest that the only negative reaction to Rush Limbaugh's program is a petition to Clear Channel. His opponents have been organizing campaigns to pressure his advertisers for years now.

If these companies do not provide a product that attracts a sufficent number of consumers to justify advertising dollars, they will not be around for long.

If NPR and PBS was funded soely by the public they might be in the same place, but of course they are not. While they, obviously, want to solicit memberships (as evidenced by their annoying pledge drives) these memberships are not the sole source of their revenue.

While you are wrong about the independence of sources like MSNBC or Fox, why wouldn't your prefer a new source (at least as one option) that wasn't subject to the vagaries of public opinion?



Nom de plume
 
  2  
Reply Sun 15 Dec, 2013 08:32 pm
@Thomas,
There is no clear distinction between news and entertainment anymore. I worked in broadcast in a previous life, so let me explain a couple of things here. Rush, Sean, Chris, and the like are not newspeople. They are "talent". As an entertainer, they are not held to a standard of honesty like a newsperson is. They are entertainers attempting to attract a large audience. The larger their audience, the larger their ratings numbers, and the more dollars involved. It all comes down to this. Clear Channel will NEVER fire one of their biggest cash cows and those who think so are delusional. Unfortunately, "trash talk" attracts many, many people.
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Sun 15 Dec, 2013 09:16 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Finn dAbuzz wrote:
While you are wrong about the independence of sources like MSNBC or Fox, why wouldn't your prefer a new source (at least as one option) that wasn't subject to the vagaries of public opinion?

I'm not sure what kind of source you have in mind. Can you give me an example?
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Dec, 2013 09:22 pm
@Nom de plume,
Nom de plume wrote:
There is no clear distinction between news and entertainment anymore. [...]

I doubt that's the relevant distinction. Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert mix entertainment with news all the time, and yet their integrity is on par with Walter Cronkite's and John Lehrer's. (Which, as an aside, surprises me, considering my anti-network views.)
Frank Apisa
 
  0  
Reply Mon 16 Dec, 2013 07:03 am
@Finn dAbuzz,
Finn dAbuzz wrote:

Frank Apisa wrote:

The NEWSHOUR on PBS is my favorite source, Thomas. The NY Times is high on my list, but these days I can only get 10 - 15 articles on-line before they start hassling me.

The Star-Ledger is okay...but only okay.

The other stuff like the ones you mentioned...I use as secondary sources...and always with several grains of salt.




So you get your news from reliably liberal sources.

It's pretty tough then to take seriously any criticism you might offer about conservative sources.


Really???

So you consider the only reliable criticism has to come from people who get their news primarily from conservative sources?

In any case, as a non-conservative and non-liberal...I consider The NEWSHOUR on PBS to be even-handed. Of course, conservatives only consider right wing sources to be even-handed...and usually consider the nut-case right wing media to be conservative.

Finn...you guys have strayed so far from reality, you cannot see it with binoculars.
Finn dAbuzz
 
  2  
Reply Mon 16 Dec, 2013 06:13 pm
@Frank Apisa,
No, I consider that the only reliable criticism of conservative sources if from those who actually access them on a regular basis.

I subscribe to the Sunday Times, and the Washington Post on-line. I also regularly read the New Republic, The Nation, Slate and the Huffington Post. On Sundays mornings I usually watch all of the network news shows (thanks to DVD).

I keep waiting for a liberal columnist or pundit with which I can agree. There's been some occasions, but they have been, overall, rare.

The News Hour is reasonably fair handed, and I watched it for years. After McNeil and Leherer left it became less fair handed. When David Brooks became the acceptable voice of conservatism and EJ Dionne took over from Shields, I moved on.

Do you regularly read or watch National Review, The Weekly Standard, The Washington Times, The Wall Street Journal and Fox News?

I think not.

Finn dAbuzz
 
  2  
Reply Mon 16 Dec, 2013 06:33 pm
@Thomas,
That's my point, there are none.

What puzzles me is that you seem to be saying that news sources that can most be influenced by public opinion are the most valuable.

Why would you want to get your news from a source that is subject to pressure from what will always be a rather small number of consumers who deign to complain?

Independence certainly wouldn't assure objectivity, but at least the decision of what is news and how it is presented would be determined by professionals and not the mob.

I don't have a problem, per se, with liberally biased news sources. My problem is with their dishonest claims that they are not biased and the fact that they dominate the media, not-with-standing that their viewpoint doesn't dominate thinking in this country.

I also have a problem with liberals who are so intent upon forcing their worldview on all of us that they can't live with a single right leaning network, within a forest thick with left leaning ones.

Even we assume that Fox is nothing more than an enterprise that is intent upon making money by feeding the delusions of it's viewers, what's the big deal for liberals?

Surely they are not concerned that Fox might turn a liberal to the right, are they?

MSNBC is a joke and is exactly the sort of network liberals assert (wrongly) that Fox is, but do you see anything from conservatives that even comes close to the paranoid, vitriolic reaction so many liberals have for Fox?

MediaMatters exists only to attack Fox. Is there a similar conservative site dedicated to attacking MSNBC?

it doesn't speak well of the conviction of a group that they can't abide a different voice.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Dec, 2013 08:39 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Finn dAbuzz wrote:
What puzzles me is that you seem to be saying that news sources that can most be influenced by public opinion are the most valuable.

It's not about influence, it's about equity. If you're the product people sell to their business partners, you're in an inequitable relationship with them. If you are the same people's customer, or a member in their organization, or a citizen in their country, that's more equitable, and they have a greater incentive to take you seriously.
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Dec, 2013 08:40 pm
@Thomas,
And your concept of equity implies influence.
Lash
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Dec, 2013 09:27 pm
Thomas, just curious: Do you think Bashir's statement was a fire-able offense? Do you thnk those who want Limbaugh fired should have one specific quote to point to - or just a vague all-encompassing "lies" charge? What news do you think Americans should consider even-handed?

Anybody can feel free to answer, as well.
 

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