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There are real, substantive and important values that reach far beyond what is either trendy or profitable. Unfortunately, responsible people, adults whose job it is to supervise and guide our American institutions and provide continuity in our lives, are largely gone from television news.
Washington — There’s a popular notion in America today that right and wrong are no longer suitable criteria for deciding how we live and relate to one another. It’s not that right and wrong are either outmoded, or inappropriate, only that right, wrong, decency, patriotism, credibility, and truthfulness are inconvenient. Thus, arguments made here, and by many others, that television news has become a cesspool of innuendo, hysteria, provocation, half-truths and pseudo information, are largely ignored.
There are plenty of good people in television news today. They are not well served, nor well lead by big media interests whose only motivation is to wring every last dollar from their government-sponsored monopoly that awards them control of nearly all broadcast resources. Many of those who work in television news sense that something is wrong, that their product is marginal, if not insignificant. Some realize that they, and their craft, are adrift and increasingly insecure in a free-for-all marketplace where infomercials breed faster than rabbits. Most of those who work in television, it seems, neither know, nor care.
Television news is a job. You do what you’re told, and you go along to get along. Everything changes, they argue, so change is good. It’s not true, of course, for there are real, substantive and important values that reach far beyond what is either trendy or profitable. Unfortunately, responsible people, adults whose job it is to supervise and guide our American institutions and provide continuity in our lives, are largely gone from television news.
The absence of adult supervision means that anything goes. And why not? For the belief that’s instilled in newcomers to the business is that The Marketplace is sacrosanct, and reliable. Demanding ideas and values are thus seen as old-fashioned, and unworthy. What’s popular, what’s trendy and what’s hot are thus substituted for what’s right, what’s patriotic, and what matters.
Many of our youngest and least experienced citizens are attracted to this powerful medium. They go to school to be instructed in gesturing, stand-upper technique, authoritative voicing, and teasing skills. Along the way they are programmed to accept change as evidence of improvement, and ratings as the final arbiter of what is right and what is wrong. Those with either the character, wisdom, or life experience to know better are shunned, made to feel old, out-dated, or accused of being resistant to change. Many leave the business rather than give-in to the constant pressure to distort, hype, pontificate and pretend that the least important episodes in our communities are not just important, but the only important events in our lives.
Substituting marketplace values for wisdom, judgment, honesty and integrity has severely damaged our nation and put at risk those freedoms that permit us to sustain the Great American ideas of freedom, self expression, and independence. Marketplace ideas and values are insufficient to assure this nation’s survival in the complex world beyond our borders.
Have you considered becoming part of the solution?