Winners and Losers in Our New Media Moment


| 12/22/2015 3:01:00 PM


Tags: media culture, election season,

Reprinted with permission from TomDispatch.

Sometimes what matters most takes up every inch of space in the room and somehow we still don’t see it. That’s how I feel about our present media moment.

Let me put it this way: I’m a creature of habit, and one of those habits has long been watching NBC Nightly News, previously with anchor Brian Williams and now with Lester Holt. It’s my way of getting some sense of what an aging cohort of American news viewers (like me) learns daily about the world — what stories are considered important and not, and in what order, and how presented.

Here’s one thing it’s hard not to notice: the line-up of stories that we used to call the “news” seems increasingly like a thing of the past. Remarkably often these days, the “news” is a single hyped-up story — most recently, the San Bernardino shootings — reported frenetically and yet formulaically, often in near-apocalyptic fashion. Clearly, such an approach is meant to glue eyeballs in a situation in which viewers are eternally restless and there are so many other screens available. This single story approach is both relentless and remarkably repetitious because a lot of the time next to nothing new is known about the supposedly unfolding event (which is nonetheless presented as if our lives depended upon it). To fall back on the anchor of Avon, it often enough seems like a tale told by a collective idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Newsroom

The 24/7 news cycle often focuses on one story to the exclusion of events elsewhere in the world.