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Monday, October 24, 2016

Authors Wonder: What Happened To National TV?



Fixed elections and rigged media. This is what we have heard in the waning days of the contentious race to the White House. It’s the latest story line in an election cycle that seemingly started at the end of Obama’s second election night victory. National TV has been taken over by self-anointed pundits who relentlessly discuss, ad nauseam, the upcoming election as if this were one big pre-Super Bowl show. The approach national television has taken to the election has left America less informed about actual news regarding the rest of the country and world. Further, the process shuts out authors from bringing their voice to the table.

This forces people to either seek their news elsewhere – hello, Internet – or it pushes them to turn away from the media. We’re sick and disgusted to see non-stop media coverage of nothing. Who wants 23 hours and 40 minutes of repetitious analysis after just a 20-minute serving of news? How much longer can we take watching biased media present things in such a non-centrist way? What happened to television that, with so many options, we became left with no choices?

As a citizen, I have no doubt that the latest TV news leaves our nation damaged and vulnerable. An uninformed or misinformed citizenry, a misdirected populace, a distracted people is bad for those who want reform and implement in how our government and society act. How can we get anything done if real issues aren’t debated honestly, if facts and news aren’t presented, if the only viewpoints shared are from insiders network payroll?

As a book promoter, I’m saddened, frustrated, and angry that there are so few shows available to authors for appearances. Authors are relegated to late-night comedy shows where only certain topics and types of authors are invited, or to morning shows in limited doses. The big cable networks like Fox, MSNBC, CNN, or CNBC largely do not bring on authors. They used to have them on around the clock.

Maybe it’s a coincidence that TV news viewership has declined significantly this century. It’s not just that people are distracted by Netflix, video games, or Instagram – people are fed up with the lack of journalism and quality of TV news. It’s boring, insulting, uninforming, and infuriating. Fox is a joke. It is an ignorant bully. MSNBC is just an intellectualized version of propaganda. CNN tries to hug the middle but often falls short.

The premise of 24-hour global news has been reduced to sitting-around one’s kitchen with a bunch of stupid neighbors. These stations don’t run original programming all day and night.

They re-run shows part of the time. Many hours are gobbled up with opinion-sharing though they don’t clearly label themselves as such. The news that’s reported is rarely original – they copy each other and feed off of other sources like a newswire, the morning newspapers, or popular bloggers. You have a better chance at learning what is going on by watching Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live.

National TV has turned into The View. We let the TMZ version of the news dominate the boob tube. Sex scandals. Fallen athletes. Addicted celebrities. This is old news. We’ve become so limited, predictable, and boring in what we watch and discuss. I’m annoyed at hearing myself whine about it. But I cannot believe to what depths we’ve sunk and how awful it is for Americans, authors, and the world to suffer this Dark Age.

So what are we left with?

News on radio is either weather-sports-traffic repeated every three minutes or it's talk shows that have a biased host chatting with ignorant call-ins.

Magazines can go in-depth and newspapers can break stories, but both are getting smaller in number, and thinner in staff and are battling shrinking page counts.

Online is a Wild West mixture of dot.com versions of traditional media with untrained, unvetted bloggers, podcasters, and amateur video posters. Tweets are on par with The New York Times online. You don’t know what’s fact or fiction online. You need to piece together a version of the truth – not necessarily the truth mind you – by consuming large bits of video, sound bites, photos, and words from a variety of sources. It’s a lot of work.

Authors are getting tired of having to be entertainers and personalities, rather than be writers. They are annoyed at how much content beyond writing a book that they have to keep creating. They hate having to put out content through a variety of means daily, and trying to get past gatekeepers who no longer provide the opportunities that used to exist. Folks, the news media is in shambles. We suffer, as citizens and authors, for it. I don’t have a silver lining or a positive suggestion. I feel defeated by it.

Perhaps the only suggestion I have for you is that you should write a book about this and look to open and influence others out there so they are motivated to revolt and do something about it.

If only the media would report on your book and interview you.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2016 ©.
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