There was a time in the history of news reporting when factual information and accuracy in information dissemination were of the utmost importance not only to the reporter, but to the reader as well. But as technological advancements such as 24 hour cable news networks, internet newspapers, blogging, and papparazi / ambush news reporting slowly gained ground, the way that a news report is presented to the public has become haphazard and slanted.
Maybe it is because the world has become a more serious place now, or perhaps it is because people no longer have the time to sit down and analyze the information being thrown at us by the news media, whatever the reason, news reporting has deteriorated to the point wherein there is no longer such a thing as a good news story.
Rupert Murdoch, the American born media mogul made his fortune by changing the way the news is reported to the people. His only concern was getting the story before any other newspaper or television news network.
Accuracy was never the name of his game and he made sure that his foot soldiers knew it. Of course they were only too happy to follow this kind of template. It made their job easier after all. They could say whatever they want and publish a retraction later or correction to the data contained in their report if it became necessary to do so.
The media is a very powerful tool of social consciousness. Rupert Murdoch admitted as much in his interview during at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland when he attended a forum there in 2005 (Murdoch Of Fox News Admits Manipulating The News For Agenda, 2005). He described how newspapers and channels can actually set the political agenda and make people either feel a deep concern for issues, or simply disdain and disgust.
It is hard to say that Rupert Murdoch is the only news media head to told his staff to disregard accuracy of information and simply do whatever they have to do, and that includes, phone hacking, tapping, surveillance, etc, in order to get the scoop on a hot story. Do what you have to do to get the story ahead of the competition. The more explosive the story, the more questionable the information gathered, the easier the news item becomes to manipulate and slant towards a specific agenda.
People like Rupert Murdoch have brought the news world to its knees. Those who emulate his style are also to blame for the continued decline and growing public distrust of the news media be it in electronic, television, or printed form. Carl Bernstein (Murdioch’s Watergate?, 2011) has tried to explain how Murdoch did this through the print media using the once respectable New York Times:
“Page Six, emblematic in its carelessness about accuracy or truth or context—but oh-so-readable—became the model for the gossipization of an American press previously resistant to even considering publishing its like. (Murdoch accomplished a similar debasement of the airwaves in the 1990s with the—tame by today’s far-lower standards—tabloid television show A Current Affair.)”
In a world that continues to value information security and identity theft more and more everyday, it would seem that the the very same public that wishes to remain informed are the very reason that the news media has began to violate the privacy of high profile individuals. It is because of this over interest in news personalities and the insistence on getting into the nitty gritty of a story that the news media found an opening to violate privacy laws. All in the name of “news reporting”.
News and news personalities these days all play a highly explosive game of “I’m right, you’re wrong”. Political parties use the news networks to divide the people by presenting news that presents the positive side of their agenda and the totally negative side of the other agenda. In other words, CNN is a Democrat station and Fox is a Republican station.
They do not have a middle ground. The networks do not care if the information that comes out of their anchors mouths are correct. They only care about getting their agenda out there and embedded in the minds of their “supporters”. Rupert Murdoch, was the master of that game. According to Forbes Magazine (Rupert Murdoch, 2011) “Murdoch’s Fox News generated $700 million in operating profit in 2010, crushed the competition in ratings and may have put the Republicans over the top in the midterms.”
It is truly a sad day when the very people whom we rely on to keep us informed, the people whom we look at as the Guardians of Truth and the harbingers of peace and understanding become the very people whom we should fear the most.
These days, news reports suffer from a severe lack of judgement and respect for the rights of the people they are reporting about. They have become very callous individuals who are only after the money that their news article, be it accurate or not, can bring in. They no longer care about reputations and destroying lives. The dollar sign has become the more dominant force in the issue.
The Rupert Murdoch Phone Hacking Scandal has shown us that the media is truly out of control now. They have lost all sense of decency and need to be reined in somehow. Just as the rights of the media to access information is important, the method by which this information is obtained must also be secured.
Punishments must be enacted for anybody shown to be in violation of privacy rights. Press Freedom is one thing, but they have shown that they do not know how to handle that freedom. Therefore, it should be well within the rights of legislators to curtail that particular freedom. It has been overly abused and it will not stop. It will only escalate further. Unless somebody stands up and tells the news media that enough is enough.
Bernstein, Carl. (2011). Murdoch’s Watergate?. Newsweek. Retrieved from http://www.newsweek.com/2011/07/10/murdoch-s-watergate.html
n.a. (2011). Rupert Murdoch. Forbes.com. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/profile/rupert-murdoch
rayzer42. (Producer). (Jan.15, 2008). Murdoch of Fox News Admits Manipulating the News for Agenda. Video retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=0K2pLo8JV5Y