The Dumbing Down of The Media

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Over the weekend, my wife was watching a program on television — the History Channel or Discovery, I’m not sure which — on the topic of the Dragon’s Triangle. This so-called “mysterious” area is allegedly the Pacific Ocean’s counterpart of the infamous Bermuda Triangle.

As part of the “evidence” presented, the program’s narrator mentioned the loss of an air force transport aircraft — while showing video of a World War II B-17 “Flying Fortress” bomber — and then covering the mysterious disappearance of an air force fighter — while showing video of a U.S. Navy Panther jet with the letters “NAVY” clearly visible on the aircraft’s fuselage. Either the producers were too lazy to find video of aircraft that matched the narrative, or they were too stupid to realize the difference.

Nor are these isolated incidents. Several months ago I watched a news report where a clueless reporter covered the movement of a navy transport ship, referring to it as a “battleship”. The contrast between a transport and a “battleship” would be obvious to a third-grade student. That some reporters cannot discern a difference speaks volumes.

And this raises the question: if the media cannot get these things right, how can we believe them on anything? In the case of the so-called “Dragon’s Triangle” program, I immediately discounted all their “facts” as ill-informed nonsense.

Once upon a time, journalists were trained to get the important, factual details of a story and report what they observed in an objective manner. Alas, those days appear to be a far-distant memory. And this does not bode well for the future of the media — or mankind.

1 thought on “The Dumbing Down of The Media

  1. JN Kish

    Your observations are valid. I think that there are several factors contributing to “The Dumbing Down of the Media”.

    1) More media than ever.
    In the past (let’s use the 50’s) – There were newspapers, radio, tv (a handfull of local channels). There were less media outlets which allowed for higher advertising margins, more money, more people dedicated to the quality control of each specific outlet and more demand for jobs at each outlet- Thus allowing each outlet to hire the best and the brightest. Thus allowing each outlet more resources to police content prior to release. Also, the media consumers were more focused (because the many were consumers of the few) and had more power to hold each media outlet accountable for quality. Typically through complaints to advertisers.
    2) The rise of the internet, cable and satellite tv.
    The rise of these new mediums has pulled down the media stacks erected in the early days. Now the media is spread out all over the place. There are thousands of media web sites, cable tv stations (i.e. history channel), satellite tv stations blogs, podcasts, etc. The ad revenue (money) is spread out, the media is spread out and as a result the people are spread out. This has created many media jobs for less money, instead of the past where there were few jobs for more money.
    3) Reduced Standards and Quality.
    As a result of issues 1 and 2 above, hiring standards have dropped, quality controls have relaxed and logically so- Media quality has suffered.

    This is similar to what has happened with consumer goods in America since outsourcing and globalization have taken over. As more competition is created- inherently there is turmoil in the market and overall quality tends to suffer. We are seeing this now in the media. I think that eventually the market will balance out. Those with poor quality will fail and the strong will survive… As long as each government allows the market it’s freedom to mimic nature.

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