When trying to parse through the sludge known as the American news cycle, it can be hard to find something understandable, readable and maybe even relatable. Articles online feel so opinionated that they belong in your friend’s blog on Medium and not on the New York Times website.
Objective reporting feels like a lost cause, yet Americans yearn for it. Many Americans of all ages look to television news for their reporting, and, for a long time, television news was the place to go get your news. Watch an NBC election report from the 80’s and it just talks about the polls and the basic ideas of the candidate. They rarely said if they despised a candidate or liked another one, but over the last decade or so, television news has become extremely opinionated and partisan. This is in partly due to many factors that would take a dissertation to discuss, but one culprit feels like the biggest one: the setup of the news itself.
Turn on CNN, Fox or NBC during an important event and you’ll most likely see something similar to this: A panel (of at least 3 people) discussing what had just taken place. In CNN’s case, these panels are everywhere. These panels usually consist of analysts who spend their days and nights trying to understand what’s going on in the country, but they stay opinionated in these discussions. The panel, along with the opinions, makes it feel that they are being handed an opinion rather than the news. A panel setting is hard to follow, and at the end of the day your chances of just regurgitating what someone like Vance Jones or Jeanine Pirro say skyrocket.
Television news can be better, but it’s agenda and structure has outweighed the value it has. Many people turn on the 6 o’clock news or look to “big news” for their current events knowledge. And especially in 2020 where partisanship is everywhere, television news could be the source of reason that people need to traverse a voting year. Television news has failed the American public, but that doesn’t mean they have to continue to fail. Television news must put reporting over agenda if it wants to survive or the era of the 6 o’clock news hour may pass without the knowledge of any of us.