Buddy, Can You Spare a Television Network?

by Leslie Griffith and JP Sottile, Reader Supported News

If the number one cable-news television station in America is run by Rupert Murdoch – and it is – then, my friends, it’s time for some serious soul-searching.

The Times, Sun, Guardian, Financial Times, Independent, Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph newspapers displayed featuring an apology from News Corp. chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rupert Murdoch, in London, 07/16/11. (photo: Reuters)

Before we embark on that tough journey, let’s first ask ourselves why so many people watch FOX television? It’s clearly news with a bias. So, why put something in your head that only reinforces what you already believe? It’s sort of like eating Fruity Pebbles for every meal – a sickly-sweet serving of empty calories. We all know that mixing up the menu leads to a healthy body. The same is true of television news. Except now, the banquet table is nearly bare and agenda-free news is hard to find.

Since FOX’s transformation from carnival sideshow to the center ring of the media circus, the other networks have altered their programming to try to compete with the personality-driven, hyperbolic, opinion-based chatter that made Rupert Murdoch so wealthy. Now, there are simply no alternatives to Fruity Pebbles … except perhaps a bowl of soggy Co-Co Puffs.

That’s why “we the people” need a network of our own.

First, let’s toss those cereal bowls aside and ask ourselves why we are so hell-bent on reaffirming our own feelings with affirmation news? The answer is – we are uncertain and afraid. A steady diet of betrayal and fear has us seeking out the comfort of conformity … and the solace of similar thinking. But, after years of lowering standards, Mr. Murdoch may be about to save the industry he helped destroy.

The cracks in Rupert Murdock’s empire have already begun to open the gates and overturn the gatekeepers. A people’s network – let’s call it We The People News – would challenge the conventional “wisdom” that has led this country to the brink of economic and emotional breakdown. Much as Ted Turner once did with CNN, the people’s network, WTP, would station reporters around the globe. They would actually live in the country or state from which they report … no more flying in for a day or two during a crisis, and no more jabbering about the celebrity trial du jour.

Instead of corporate cross-promotions or political posturing, the WTP network wouldn’t spend its time puckering up and planting kisses on the pantaloons of those who pay the bills or get paid off by the power brokers. The people’s network would have sound reporting … and be beholden only to an agenda of enhancing the free flow of fact-based information. It would be written without a pre-paid slant and read without showmanship. Sure, there would be all those messy facts to deal with, but the American people would be free to make up their own minds. Reporting and deciding wouldn’t be just a gimmicky slogan. It would be a nightly exercise.

That’s why we need to borrow a network. It’s okay, they aren’t using them. Not really.

This is the iron talking … and it’s hot. All around the country people are changing the channel. Years of declining ratings tell the story. Can’t you hear the clicking sounds? Or, perhaps that’s the clock.

So, network owners, if you also hear those channels changing, perhaps we could borrow your network just long enough to remind us all of the public service you were supposed to uphold when you got your license to take a bite out of the public’s airwaves. If we get a chance to catch our breath, maybe we’ll see exactly how personality-driven information can harm and distort the priorities of a country. Maybe then fact-starved people would no longer have to spend hours online rooting around the internet for some grains of truth. WTP would revive that old credo of journalism and try to cover all sides of an issue. Maybe then viewers could finally be informed about who is doing what to whom … and, more often than not, what is being done to them.

Reporters at WTP could be the watchdogs they once were, and we now need. Not the sleazy purveyors of rumor, opinion and tabloid scandal that they’ve become.

There is a sad irony in this fine mess Mr. Murdoch has gotten himself into. He will now be tried by the very sort of vicious, no-holds-barred style of tabloid press he helped create in the first place. The consummate snake-oil salesman … now judged by the angry masses who bought that oily, insincere brand of Fruity Pebbles patriotism and feckless fear-mongering, and now indicted by the “news” game he helped to rig.

Murdoch’s empire may fall. But the real question is – what will rise from those ashes if and when it does?
That is when we, the people, have to make our move and demand something more than just another pretender to the throne. That’s one market we all need to share.

Leslie Griffith has been a television anchor, foreign correspondent and an investigative reporter in newspaper, radio and television for over 25 years. Among her many achievements are two Edward R Murrow Awards, nine Emmies, 37 Emmy Nominations, a National Emmy nomination for writing, and more than a dozen other awards for journalism. She is currently working on a documentary, giving speeches on “Reforming the Media,” and writing for many on-line publications, as well as writing a book called “Shut Up and Read.” She hopes the book, her speeches, and her articles on the media will help remind the nation that journalism was once about public service … not profit. To contact Leslie, go to lesliegriffithproductions.com.

JP Sottile is a newsroom veteran. His credits include a stint on the Newshour news desk, C-SPAN, Executive Producer for ABC affiliate WJLA in Washington, and a two-time Washington Regional Emmy Award Winner. In addition, JP is a documentary filmmaker.

Republished with permission from ReaderSupportedNews.org. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.