Is the news really news?


C'est la vie
Retired Staff
Not too long ago I was a journalism major and the editor of a college paper, and all the things I learned about the media have sickened me to the profession. When you imagine being a journalist, you think of going out and uncovering the truth, exposing corruption and serving the greater good of democracy by informing the public. The reality of being a journalist in this day and age is you are a public relations lackey.

The problem is that the media isn't free. Most of the newspapers, magazines, television stations, etc. are owned by a handful of corporations. When you are a journalist you refer to the corporation that owns your establishment as "the ownership". The ownership hires editors/managers that look out for their interest. After all, a corporation isn't suicidal. The ownership doesn't want the media it owns to be out there investigating it. So the ownership ultimately decides what stories can and cannot be told.

Then comes the advertisements. Advertisements make it so that a newspaper, television programs, etc. can be completely paid for even before they are produced, so that the ownership does not have to rely on subscription fees. There is a simple rule in journalism, "Don't bite the hand that feeds you." I learned this rule firsthand when my paper lost the business of and was nearly sued by the National Guard, one of our biggest advertisers, when we ran an article on women serving in combat. So advertisers also dictate what can and cannot be printed.

Then comes the reality of where journalist get about 80% of their "news". Public relations agencies financed or a part of businesses or the government. These agencies were created specifically to protect the image and bolster their financiers. One of their duties is to send out "press releases" which outline things that are going on. A business press release may talk about how that business has been donating time and money to an orphanage. A government press release might talk about how gun related crime is down 60%. However, press releases are written to shine things in a good light. What the business press release may not have told you is that they were donating time and money to an orphanage because most of their management has to serve community service for various white collar crimes for which they were prosecuted. The government press release may boast about its 60% decrease in gun crime, but it might selectively leave out the 200% increase in knife related crimes. Businesses and the government spend billions upon billions of dollars on public relations, and your average journalist will write a story based on just the press releases.

Then you have the flak. Flak is the term used in the journalism biz for any crap you might stir up among the public by what you report. It is very important to take into consideration the area in which you live when deciding what to print or broadcast. I saw an example of this not too long ago. A newspaper in my general area wrote a piece on a gay couple who had just opened an art studio. The newspaper was swamped with angry letters from people threatening to cancel their subscriptions because the paper was being "pro gay". This was funny since the paper was actually ran by a very religious editor who was just trying to be objective. So if people won't like what you report, then you shouldn't report it.

Then comes the cut down. Space and time is money and media is a business. Stories are cut down to their minimum so that they fit around advertisement. When you shorten a story, you usually cut out important details. This means that news that has already been highly filtered is now trimmed of anything deemed as "fat" by the editorial staff.

So by the time you see the news, it has been filtered by the ownership, filtered by advertisement, filtered by public relations agencies financed by businesses/government, filtered to protect it from flak, and cut down to a summary. So I repeat the question. Is the news really news?
Well. I already knew that journalists were biased, but you bring up some factors that I had not thought of before. Now I want to go start an objective newspaper. :geek:
No.The news is pollution.Recycled pollution that keeps us living in fear.We all have our own tragedty's to deal with at certain times in our lives.Until then let the fear peddling merchants keep their crap.CHOOSE TO LIVE IN JOY.
I've never been able to stand the news... ever. The reasons for why/how it's filtered have never much grabbed my interest, but when I watch it (which hasn't been since middle school--I'm a sophomore in college now) it didn't fool me for a second. Everything about it, the stories, the ideas, even the tone/concern of the newscasters giving it (have you ever heard them talk about brutal murders in/around a city?), is cheap, hollow, and one sided. The same goes for almost every health study about losing weight that I've ever seen (which come from either mainstream internet sites, like yahoo news or something, which I'll read for amusement, as well as the normal tv news, back when I used to watch it). I hate when people fake understanding or objectivity--and the culture (along with the news that it loves) is saturated with both.