“The harder the Press presses those with power, the harder those with power press back.” -Me
Post#: 286-19 – Words: 1247 – Audio: N/A
As with most things in marketing, it’s all how you package the message, and far less about the accuracy of that message.
By now most of my readers have heard about FOX news anchor and journalistic veteran, Shepard Smith, suddenly leaving FOX News after an on-air tag to his last broadcast. He was FOX’s one source for journalistic objectivity in reporting the news that went up against the FOX prime time line up of political opinionated opinonists, the likes of Hannity and Tucker Carlson, et al. He had a one hour afternoon news broadcast for years that tended to draw criticism from the FOX prime time pundits who reflected the growing Right Wing Conservative stance and pro-Trump mindset of oblique truths and alt-facts. Internally at FOX, Smith was inside a growing antagonism with the “big guys” garnering the vast majority of viewers.. and subsequently putting FOX as the highest viewers of the rated cable news networks.. and earning the advertising bucks to go with that popularity. Given Smith’s “unpopular-ness” with the average Conservative FOX viewer, the man was able to grab a whopping $15 million a year (I don’t even think CNN’s Anderson Cooper goes that high.) for putting up with all that nonsense over at FOX.
He was part of the original new hires when FOX News started back in 1996. One of the done-it-all, seen-it-all journalistic veterans at FOX that contributed to the FOX News success story. Through the years he nurtured a journalistic staff that was dedicated to the objective, non-biased reporting of news… and survived in the gradual shift to the dominating Conservative opinion brought to the front in the Age of Trump.
Ok.. you will note that my first two paragraphs above (off-set paragraphs) tell a story about FOX of which I had very little knowledge. I have to assume, like many American viewers, FOX News WAS all about those prime time morning and evening Conservative pundits. I’ve wanted little to do with getting any sort of alleged objective reporting from anything related to FOX. I did turn to watching the occasional prime time “quacks” simply to be entertained while trying to suck out from their jabber some idea of what is feeding their divisiveness, and essentially taking on a persona of their own as a kind of Trump Ministry of Propaganda. But the question here is not about those clowns but rather.. as an average viewer of cable news… why did I not know there was a guy like Shepard Smith, much less his “little” one hour real-news reporting each afternoon? Let’s go a step further. If I knew of him and his news segment, why did I not feel compelled to give it any attention (hence his generally poor viewer ratings)?
In fact, as I watch CNN or MSNBC, their own news personages would many times be very critical of the FOX Conservative pundits, yet laud praises to FOX journalists for being professional in their reporting. I often wondered where at FOX these so-called journalistic professionals were hiding and where exactly in FOX programming was this professionalism being displayed. I branded FOX News entirely as 100% biased Right Wing Conservative. I am certainly not the only one with that perception.
What’s being lamented in the FOX newsroom since Smith’s resignation is a lack of management leadership to meander through the caustic antagonism from the prime time FOX Conservative pundits. This has generally affected overall moral in those FOX employees who feel professional enough to want to report with as little bias as possible, and to be taken seriously while doing that. Roger Ailes, while certainly an allegedly recognized sexual predator in the workplace, did in fact have the tenacity and ability to provide sufficient leadership to work through these issues. But with his departure apparently there’s no one able to provide such continued leadership and that part of him is being missed. Personally, I can’t help to feel that a lot of FOX “problems” were started under Ailes’ watch, and perhaps he’s not as stellar as most perceive. But that’s just my supposition, ill-informed as it might be.
But to the greater issue regarding my relative ignorance of FOX News programming, and being “allowed” as a potential viewer to know that there is/was more to FOX News than just FOX & Friends, Hannity, Tucker, et al… those morning and prime time Conservative pontificators are, in fact, entertainment rather than objective news reporting. Opinion is not generally objective and it’s not meant to be. BUT.. that does not mean a network can’t try merging the two.. and therein rests the larger problem to the viewer.. separating opinion from news. This definitely needs to change. The question is.. how.
Now, what normally guides network programming are the evolving trends of viewers. Less viewers translates to less advertising revenue. After all, it can be all about making a profit AND not being biased as much as the other ways… biased to the owners views, or, using bias to achieve viewership. Cable content is not regulated by the FCC since it’s not a broadcast-through-the-air medium. That’s one reason more cursing, swear words, and “F-bombs” are slipping through from the politicians (thank you, Mr. Trump) and ending up in news stories. But the bottom line in all of this is that FOX News and CNN, etc. are mixing news with opinion and the lines to the viewer gets blurred. The reason that format is so popular is that we live in a world of instant news and the average human doesn’t have the capacity to process it all and make personal opinionated viewpoints from facts being presented. It’s little about people’s I.Q., educational level, economic status, grease under their fingernails. It’s about how much personal time based on our individual lives we have to work with it all. Mixing news with the talking head pundits almost immediately allows us to save some time by compressing what we are watching into a digestible bite. I currently have an affinity (and time) to digest as much news as I can to follow current events. I also can take the time to separate fact from fiction.. or fantasy… or one kind of fact vs. another kind. But that’s just how I personally choose to take interest in the world around me.
I’ve discussed this before elsewhere that as a society we truly need to present not only problem solving skills to our young in school.. but also include critical thinking skills to understand how to sort and separate the world around us into bite sizes. That’s a long term help in all this. But shorter term… it might help for the cable networks to identify a more non-bias programming of the evening news in a more traditional way vs. news with opinion. In FOX’s case, their choice of opinionators are supposed to be all Conservative. That’s a programming decision, and it’s making them money. But if I am a typical example… it’s more like.. who cares if FOX has a great news anchor on for one hour in the afternoon reporting un-biased news when their Conservative sources are screaming constantly about deep state conspiracy theories. Better not to watch FOX News at all.
My other sites… if you’re interested…