YET ANOTHER REASON WHY TV NEWS NEEDS to CHANGE

May 19, 2008 at 6:24 pm Leave a comment

American TV news continues to be the most sensationalized and least credible source of all media. In addition to its reliance on ratings and competition with 24 hour “news” channels, here is one example of how anchors use their news program as a platform for their, or their networks, own agenda.

It’s no secret that Fox News is anything but impartial. Bill O’Reilly, the most famous Fox anchor, is well known for not hiding how he feels about everything he reports on. Recently the anchor has been involved in a growing feud of adolescent proportions between the CEO of GE Jeffrey Imelt. According to a Washington Post article, the feud was initially between Keith Olberman of MSNBC and Bill O’Reilly, but when Olberman didn’t back off, O’Reilly escalated his attacks to NBC and later GE, which owns 80 percent of NBC.

O’Reilly’s attacks on GE focus on GE’s corporate presence in Iran. Due to criticism from shareholders and the public, GE recently announced it would not acquire any new business deals in Iran and would scale back its current ones. During broadcasts, O’Reilly has called Imelt a “pinhead” who is responsible for the deaths of American soldiers. “If my child were killed in Iraq, I would blame the likes of Jeffrey Immelt,” O’Reilly said recently on national TV.

While executives from NBC and Fox have discussed the situation and have tried to get both anchors to ease off, neither has intentions of being the first to stop. This quote from the Washington Post article shows just how childish everyone involved is acting.

GE spokesman Gary “Sheffer said that executives at Murdoch’s News Corp. ‘tell us if the attacks on O’Reilly end, the attacks on GE will end. They’ve had conversations with our news executives saying, “If you stop, we’ll stop.”‘

The whole situation is childish. It began as a feud between network anchors in the interest of getting viewers’ attention, which shouldn’t be the goal of any ethical news station. The fact that both anchors from both networks allowed such a feud to continue up the corporate ladder shows that TV networks’ intentions is not to be a watchdog or even an unbiased news source.

More importantly, the feud is completely unethical from a journalism standpoint. O’Reilly’s attacks are flimsy allegations that are simply not supported by facts. This is the reason why journalism has lost a lot of credibility, because anchors continue to sensationalize trivial things that have no real bearing on the public and they do it with inaccurate and without credible information.

But the blame doesn’t just lie in the hands of the anchors, but also with directors, executives and CEOs of media conglomerates. The reason this feud has gotten out of hand is because of feuding corporations, who in this case are using anchors in the name of journalism to compete against the other corporations in an intentionally malicious way. These corporations are accomplishing nothing but the erosion of ethical journalism principles.

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Entry filed under: journalism.

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