News: If It Divides, It Presides

The old saying for news networks was “If it bleeds, it leads”. I would often hear them called “ambulance chasers” as well. Both still apply, but in today’s world it’s more fitting to say “If it divides, it presides”. The 24 hour news channels, as well as the network news, love to divide us and create controversy where little exists. All for ratings sake.

I noticed this at the airport recently. All sorts of people with different backgrounds, nationalities, and view points, all traveling together and getting along. The 24 hour news channel is blaring loudly at every departure gate doing everything it can to place a wedge between me and the person across from me and beside me. Shock. Controversy. Debate. Division. Yet it all boils down to entertainment. The real news we need to know is forsaken because it doesn’t bleed or divide quite enough.

It’s very similar to the way politicians of both parties intentionally divide us according to race, gender, class, etc.. It’s to rally people to their divisive cry and get their votes. Forget that actually solving some issues and bringing us together would be a game changer for the American people and for them as well. That’s not in the political playbook. It’s not how you polarize people and get them fired up to keep voting for you and your political party.

On my recent trip to the Dominican Republic, I didn’t watch any news program or morning show for five days and it was a wonderful respite from getting the smut and grime all over me. I haven’t turned it on since returning. I have to make an extra effort to seek out genuine news reporting, but the time is worth it.

News, like politicians, could bring us together more than create division. We’d still have our differences of opinion and debate, which is healthy, but the view would be clearer and hope could actually prevail.

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One Response to News: If It Divides, It Presides

  1. curtharding says:

    You have described very well the reason I got out of the news business after being in it for more than a decade. You would be sickened by the conversations that go on in the morning and afternoon meetings as decisions are made as to what the viewers will see and how they will see it. Great stories are discarded, pushed aside, or shot to air as weekend “fluff.” Great pressure is applied to cover controversy, fear or crime. Consultants are brought in at great expense to dictate what works in other markets. They institute buzzwords like “uncovering,” “exposing the truth,” “digging deeper,” “as we first reported,” “breaking news,’ and “still developing,” among others. There are great people in newsrooms across this country-truly decent human beings who believe they’re doing the right thing. Most stay that way, though some become drunk with their own local celebrity. There are also people in power, completely disconnected with the public, making decisions about what you see, how you see it, and perhaps worst of, how you should feel about it. You are right to limit your exposure to it. The media is a reality show, a soap opera with just enough elements of truth in it to make it all appear real.

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