Blog Header
The Insights Blog

Dedicated To Helping Readers
Be More Interesting
Since 2004.

As Featured In:

Streakers, Gunmen and The Death of Network News

Here’s a fact: if you get naked and run across the football field at an NFL game, you won’t get on television.  The World Cup and most international soccer leagues have also instituted the same policy.  If a streaker makes it onto the field, the television cameras cut away from the action and the commentators simply fill time and the action will continue once he or she is removed.  The thinking is, if you remove the incentive of getting fame by being on television, streakers will stop disrupting games.  The added disincentive for the NFL is that you are likely to get crushed by a 300 lb lineman who is not too happy you are on his field in the first place.  Most network television news and cable television news programs (hereafter referred to as network news), on the other hand, have exactly the opposite incentives in place.  The more horrific your crime, the more network news time you are guaranteed.  And if you are really hungry for publicity, just send any type of video or added commentary on your crimes, and you can get media far beyond what you would ever imagine.  This is clearly what is happening in the VA Tech gunman case.  Has network news always been like this?   

No, I would trace the beginning of the end to the rise of CNN in the 80s.  I don’t blame CNN directly or Ted Turner, but the situation CNN’s launch created was that having a network dedicated to 24 hours of news meant that everyone had the challenge of finding that much more news to report.  The idealistic justification for 24 hour news was that having more time would allow the network to report on the real stories that never get covered. To be sure, some of that took place.  But what also happened is news became more of a competition as other outlets tried to compete, and that was the start of the model of news as entertainment.  To stand out, news programs stopped reporting the most important stories and started reporting the most sensationalistic.  The news became about murders, deaths, violent crimes, and what you don’t know about your toothpaste that could kill you. 

The battle to maintain relevance and compete with each other has led to the sad state of network news today, and the reason why more and more people are giving up on it as a source of credible information.  Ask any member of Generation X or Generation Y if they watch network news and you’ll understand how the death of this format is already here.  The alternative is video produced by individuals (some journalists and some not) who are reporting live from the scene through outlets like Current.TV and other more direct sources.  Even in the case of the VA Tech case, much of the early reporting was simply taken off of websites created by victims or rereported from media created by eyewitnesses.  In some cases, media had to be warned that those images were not for exploitation.  If you look at some of the recent commentary on blogs online, it’s clear that the choices made by large news outlets in terms of what to report and show has had a big effect on how the entire US is seeing news media today.  This is not like 911, where social media was not near where it is today in terms of being a force of real life information, opinions and commentary.  This is a sad, tragic story that much of media is exploiting and more than ever before, large groups of people are seeing and talking about this exploitation.  One day, we might all look back on this story and realize that this was the moment when the old model of news media really died.

technorati tags: virginia tech virginiatech media
del.icio.us tags: virginia tech virginiatech media
 

2 thoughts on “Streakers, Gunmen and The Death of Network News”

  1. The other sad thing is that the names of the victims are never remembered. I’ve tried not to pay attention to the crimes and tried to forget names such as Timonthy McVeigh, Karla Homolka, Ted Bundy, but their in there, etched in my memory. But can I remember the names of who they killed? Of course not. That wouldn’t of made for interesting news.

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Vector Smart Object

About Rohit

A keynote speaker on trends, innovation, marketing, storytelling and diversity.

Rohit Bhargava is on a mission to inspire more non-obvious thinking in the world. He is the #1 Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author of eight books and is widely considered one of the most entertaining and original speakers on disruption, trends and marketing in the world.

Rohit has been invited to keynote events in 32 countries … and over the past year, given more than 100 virtual talks from his home studio. He previously spent 15 years as a marketing strategist at Ogilvy and Leo Burnett and also teaches marketing and storytelling as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University.

He loves the Olympics, actively hates cauliflower and is a proud dad of boys.

Rohit Bhargava About (1)

Speaking

Do you need a speaker that can help your audience be more innovative and anticipate the future?

For more than a decade, Rohit Bhargava has been inspiring audiences at NASA, Disney, Schwab, Microsoft, SXSW, Coca-Cola and hundreds of other clients with his signature non-obvious keynote presentations. He is a master at weaving recent stories into his talks in a way that helps audiences better understand the world today, while also preparing to lead the future.

Non Obvious Insights
Layer 97
Non Obvious Insights Newsletter
Layer 118

Skip the obvious and anticipate the future with our weekly newsletter. Join over 25,000 subscribers and start receiving the stories (and insights) you’ve been missing.

Books

#1 WSJ & USAToday Bestselling Author

Rohit is the author of 8 books on trends, the future of business, building a more human brand with storytelling and how to create a more diverse and inclusive world.

Vector Smart Object

Contact

Have a Question or Inquiry?

Just fill out this form, and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours!

About You

What Are You Contacting Us About*:

Your Message