New Media: The Industry of Hypocrisy
*I am a recent college graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism degree. This blog used to be my personal sports blog, and I used to really enjoy what I did here. However, recently I have been convinced that the strong majority of journalism in this “New Media” age is appalling, manufactured, judgmental, and hypocritical. Currently, I no longer wish to be involved in the industry, and I hope this post explains why. I am not presenting this as fact, it is merely my personal opinion. I hope it’s worth reading.*
Recently, I find myself sickened by what is considered to be “journalism,” and I am not one of those people who holds the idea of “journalism” in a nearly religious regard. As I flip through the channels, surf the web, and see what media powers like ESPN, CNN, Fox News, etc. tell us is important, I get depressed. It all feels so contrived, and I don’t like the feeling of being deliberately tricked.
I say “deliberately tricked,” because I believe that the media manufactures fictional story lines in order to keep us irrationally interested, to scare us, and to mold our minds into a certain thought process that is financially beneficial to the media itself and all of its partners that advertise on the platform.
I believe this because I have been told what to write by management before, even if it is not true. In the past, I myself have also personally decided to greedily bend the truth in order to get more page views and, as a result, more money. Fake cliffhangers and juiced up stories mean more people watch or read, and that means more people also see advertisements. And that’s all any media company cares about now: advertising money. The ads are everywhere, it is impossible to “consume news” without being bombarded by advertisements.
I was blessed enough to move away and attend college, and I studied journalism. I loved journalism until I began to think for myself.
A class that I had with a former media member opened my eyes to the hypocrisy of the industry. I learned that big time reporters are basically held hostage to report what the company wants, or else they’ll lose their jobs. And since most reporters are desperate for legitimacy and fame, they usually oblige to the company’s wishes. The story lines that are fed down to the reporters are often devised by sociologically minded executives who have a specific goal in mind, and it always revolves around revenue.
Most of the things we hear or see are about things that aren’t even actually happening. Most of it is purely gossip. And, sadly, we seem to know more about a certain athlete, celebrity, “political crisis,” or what-have-you than we know about our own families, and even ourselves. As a result, we either get stressed and depressed, or we think that we need to change the world, but that is an impossible task to take on individually. What we can do is mend our own personal relationships, but nowadays we are too consumed with media to think about doing that. The easiest way to change the world would be for everyone to start by personally changing themselves for the better. But, we are too worried about what is happening to other people to do that.
I have had the opportunity to work in the “new media” industry for a few years now, and the culture of instant gratification disturbs me. And I do realize that I have had a very small taste of the industry, and that there are actually good and respectable publications out there, but I firmly believe that those are in the extreme minority. Twitter has ruined the idea of news, and speed is valued over validity by many journalists. Many will hear one slimy inkling of a rumor and blow it up into a misleading headline with no regard for how it might affect the subject of the story’s life.
We are a society that constantly pushes blame off of ourselves and onto others, and the media is at the heart of the problem. I once had a friend ask, “Why do journalists feel like they have the right to break into people’s lives and try to ruin them?” I had no valid answer and it changed my view of the degree I was seeking.
Some journalists feel that they are “just doing their jobs” when they snoop around and fulfill their duties at work as “truth-seekers,” but that’s simply not the case. Many journalists have a debilitating superiority complex, and they starve for attention and fame. I used to be one. Somehow, I felt that I had the right to gossip, spy, dismiss someone as lesser, and even bend the truth in order to gain a reputation. While many journalists would say that they do their jobs in order to get the truth out to the people, I believe that at the heart of it, many are out to simply increase both their own personal fame and their salary.
The following Jack Johnson lyrics from the song “Cookie Jar” perfectly encapsulate the media industry, in my opinion.
I would turn on the TV but it’s so embarrassing
To see all the other people I don’t know what they mean
And it was magic at first when they spoke without sound
But now this world is gonna hurt you better turn that thing down
Turn it around
“It wasn’t me”, says the boy with the gun
“Sure I pulled the trigger but it needed to be done
Cause life’s been killing me ever since it begun
You cant blame me cause I’m too young”
“You can’t blame me sure the killer was my son
But I didn’t teach him to pull the trigger of the gun
It’s the killing on this TV screen
You cant blame me its those images he seen”
Well “You can’t blame me”, says the media man
Well “I wasn’t the one who came up with the plan
I just point my camera at what the people want to see
Man it’s a two way mirror and you cant blame me”
“You can’t blame me”, says the singer of the song
Or the maker of the movie which he based his life on
“It’s only entertainment and as anyone can see
The smoke machines and makeup and you cant fool me”
It was you it was me it was every man
We’ve all got the blood on our hands
We only receive what we demand
And if we want hell then hells what well have
And I would turn on the TV
But it’s so embarrassing
To see all the other people
I don’t even know what they mean
And it was magic at first
But let everyone down
And now this world is gonna hurt
You better turn it around
Turn it around
That may seem drastic, but I love the part of the “media man.” Media members are responsible for molding how we view the world’s matters, especially in today’s technological age. That would be a great thing if the media was concerned with righteousness and truth. But, the media is concerned about page views, ratings, and revenue instead.
In my opinion, news and different forms of social media are so highly regarded in our society because they give us something to talk about so that we can avoid “awkwardness” and they give us something to base our lives off of in order to feel better about ourselves.
We think, “Wow look at Justin Bieber, he is an idiot.” But, we don’t consider what choices we would’ve made if we had unfathomable amounts of money in our teens. We also don’t consider what our reputation would be like if there were people following our every move, salivating at the prospect of us making an embarrassing mistake. I consider society’s concern with celebrities to be Paganism, we worship these famous people and let their life decisions define our own lives and affect our moods.
What gives a sports analyst the right to dissect the life of a teenage college athlete who got caught with drugs? What gives a fashion show “analyst” the right to absolutely embarrass someone for something as trivial as what they wore on the red carpet? And I haven’t even mentioned politics yet, mostly because I don’t know much about it (on purpose), but that realm of the media is the most meaningless. There’s nothing that ruffles the feathers of the masses like politics.
I no longer want to be a cog in the brainwashing machine that is “new media,” and I would encourage you to distance yourself from it as well. It’s amazing what life can offer when you aren’t staring vapidly into an illuminated window of gossip in your free time. I know this because I used to be consumed by social media and it destroys self-confidence and our idea of what’s important. You will never find out who you truly are until you stop caring about what others think about you, or what others think in general. We need to learn to form our own, unadulterated opinions and reign in our wild sense of our right to judge.
The problems of “new media” could all be fixed if we paid attention to one simple Bible verse: “How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.” – Matthew 7:4-5
I can’t think of a better metaphor than that, and contrary to popular belief, the media should not be exempt from that idea expressed in Matthew. Me referencing that verse could easily be viewed as extremely hypocritical itself, since I am passing judgement on the majority of media members, but I would like to think that I have removed the wooden beam of the media’s mindset from my eye, so maybe I can comment on the splinter.
If you look through old posts on this blog, you will find that I used to delight in gossip and hypothetical situations. I am trying to change that, and I am not perfect (obviously). I did not want this post to seem pompous, but I did feel that it was something I needed to write. I encourage you to comment and express how you feel about “new media.”