I have written on copious occasions about the broken state of mainstream media and the way a once respected profession has sunk into the abyss of sensationalism and foolishness. Yet, the more I observe, the more I realize that society is the driver of this intentional puerility that is being injected into the public square by the so-called “fourth estate”. If there is a market for the drivel that is presented as news, it’s because we the people keep creating a demand for it.
Part of the problem is the human psyche itself. We are drawn by the outrageous and disregard what is considered mundane. Even those of us who are repulsed by the manufactured drama of the punditry are nonetheless baited by the salacious narratives and buffoonish story lines that permeate the mainstream media landscape. On any given day, there are developments taking place that impact our lives a thousand times more than the outlandish antics and over the top personalities that dominate the news cycles.
It is easy to bash the behaviors of news professionals who keep putting personal interests ahead of the public interest. There is a reason, after all, why outlets like CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and their cohorts in corporate media have approval ratings south of Congress and the likability of Cholera. However, irrespective of our collective revulsion for the establishment press, too many keep tuning in and ingesting the very toxins that gives us agita—we just can’t quit MSM. Click To Tweet
Executives, producers and editors in news rooms throughout America and beyond understand this conniption of ours very well. In an atmosphere where media outlets depend on clicks and eyeballs in order to remain viable to their corporate sponsors, the incentive is to keep pushing the boundary of civility and decency in order to pull in more ad revenue. Beyond the top and bottom line, there is the human factor. People who gravitate to keyboards, microphones and cameras want to be heard, once heard they want to keep expanding their audience.
Attention becomes currency in this way, the more we get noticed, the more we want to magnify our influence. This is true of the unknown blogger, the most acclaimed TV anchors and all in between. The age of social media has exacerbated the need to value quantity of engagement over quality of output. I write about this from personal experience, when I first started writing at the Ghion Journal, I used to publish pieces that dealt with love, loss and tried to shine a light on topics seldom mentioned by mainstream media. When I realized that the articles I wrote about politics were wildly more shared and consumed than articles I wrote about unheralded topics, subconsciously I shifted towards the former and drifted away from the latter.
There is a general consensus that the state of mainstream media is unacceptable. Wall to wall coverage of carnival barkers behind desks covering clowns in positions of power and pumping divisive narratives into the ether have become an anvil around the neck of society. However, irrespective of our disposition towards corporate press, we must accept responsibility and change our consumption habits. This requires us to make concerted efforts to turn off what we find objectionable and seek that which is edifying.
As much as the ruling class and their courtiers try to cow us into submission with bogeymen and synthetic threats, the greatest threat of all comes from those who control information and want to limit our access to it. That is why the pace of censorship and silencing is increasing from a crawl to a sprint, they always take away what you hate before they come after what you love. Last week, Alex Jones was deplatformed,a few days ago Telesur was banned from Facebook and today Caitlin Johnstone was suspended from Twitter. While we are being conditioned with mainstream media inanities, our choices to seek other forms news are slowly being eradicated.
There was a time where a free press used to check power, we now have a fee press that collects checks from power.
— Teodrose Fikre ✒ (@TeodroseFikre) August 17, 2018
The buck stops with us, the only way we can put a stop to this age of antagonism and acrimony is if we decide to stop being a part of the circus. Latching on to the latest “breaking news” and passing on some article that is peddling smut in the name of incredulity is only feeding the engine of yellow journalism. In a way, the state of mainstream media is a reflection of who we are as a society. When we change our approach and refuse to consume the junk food of politics and media, we can cultivate new voices who yearn to check power instead of listening to media that is receiving checks from power. #MainstreamWeDia
“You can either be informed and your own rulers, or you can be ignorant and have someone else, who is not ignorant, rule over you.” ~ Julian Assange
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Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.