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Why do Americans trust local newscasts so much?

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Why do Americans trust local newscasts so much

In a letter written to Richard Price on January 8th, 1789, Thomas Jefferson said, “…wherever the people are well informed they can be trusted with their own government; that whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights.”

What Jefferson meant by this, I believe, is that in order for a democratic government to function as intended, the people subject to its rule must be informed enough to not only recognize when their elected representatives have failed them but also recognize who is best suited to replace them and repair the damage their failure caused. To put it more simply, voters need to be able to see that there’s a problem and know who to elect in order to solve it, and Jefferson believed this can only be achieved if the voters are well informed, which itself can only be achieved if the voters have easy access to information.

For the democratic nations of the early modern and late modern periods of history, this easy access was provided by newspapers, thanks to the spread of the printing press, with radio broadcasts entering the picture around the end of the late modern period. For the democratic nations of today, however, it’s television that serves as the primary medium through which we inform ourselves about the world around us. According to a report published by the Pew Research Center in September 2017, about 50% of Americans still claim they often get their news from television compared to 43% who claim the same of the Internet. The gap between the two sources is closing rapidly, and the Internet may have already supplanted television since the publication of the report, but television still plays an immense role in disseminating information to the American people.

Local newscasts, in particular, still enjoy a special place in the hearts of Americans, with 37% claiming they often get their news from local television stations, according to the same report. A different report published by the Pew Research Center, this one in July 2016, shows that 22% of Americans claim to trust local news organizations “a lot” while 60% claim to trust them “some”, for a net total of 82%. That net total is higher than for any other source of information, even friends and family, and while “local news organizations” refers to all mediums, not just television, it still shows that Americans still have a great deal of trust in local newscasts. To understand why this is the case, one must look back to the early days of television news.

Steven Waldman, a former Senior Advisor to the Chairman of the FCC and co-founder of Report for America, published a report in June 2011 on behalf of the FCC titled The Information Needs of Communities. The report is quite large and discusses the media landscape as a whole, but the part most relevant to this article begins on page 72, where Waldman explains how interest in television exploded following the end of World War II. Much of this interest actually came from newspaper companies that assumed this new medium would eventually come to dominate the media market and wanted to beat their competitors to it. Obviously, this assumption was correct and by the time the 1960s came around, about 90% of American households had a television set, according to the Library of Congress. Television quickly grew to become the dominant medium for news propagation and it was during this time period, from the end of World War II to the 1960s, that many of the formats and techniques we’re familiar with today began to take shape, such as breaking news and special events coverage.

It was also during this time period that local newscasts began to come into existence, starting in major metropolitan areas like New York City and Washington, DC during the early 1950s. The format was initially very simple, usually nothing more than a single news anchor reading some announcements about local events, but local newscasts proved to be far more popular and profitable than expected. Not only was self-made, community-focused content cheap to produce, television stations didn’t need to share the advertising revenue generated by this content with the corporate network they were affiliated with, or even owned by. Audiences also loved it because, being members of the very communities being reported on, the content was far more relevant to their lives than content produced by national networks.

The massive, unexpected success success of these early local newscasts prompted stations across the United States to begin creating their own community-focused content. From major metropolitan areas to sparsely populated farming regions, the entire nation was soon peppered with local newscasts and it wasn’t long before the bland, “man-on-camera” format of reporting was abandoned in favor of the far more engaging and entertaining formats we’re familiar with today. Stations began focusing more of their attention and resources on their local newscasts, which improved the depth and quality of their reporting, and by the 1970s many stations were actually broadcasting more of their own, community-focused content than the generally national and international content provided to them by their network.

Television journalism during this time period was also far more fact-focused and upright than it is today, according to Ted Koppel, the acclaimed former anchor of Nightline. In an editorial published by The Washington Post in November 2010, Koppel, lamenting the death of “real news,” claims that, at the time, each network viewed their television news division as more of a public service than a business. Unlike the local newscasts produced by their affiliate and O&O stations, content produced by the networks themselves in the first few decades of television news was rarely profitable. Networks were happy with this lack of profit, however, as it allowed them to point to their television news divisions as evidence that they were fulfilling their promise to the FCC to serve the “public interest, convenience and necessity,” as required by the Radio Act of 1927. By losing money on television news and maintaining a strict code of journalistic integrity and objective reporting, networks were able to keep the FCC off their back while they made insane profits from their entertainment divisions.

Koppel claims in his editorial that it wasn’t just a desire to mollify the FCC that preserved the integrity of television news during this time period, but a bit of ignorance as well. At the time, the networks didn’t think that there was much money to be made in the news industry, at least, not enough to justify the effort of expanding their divisions. In fact, as their fear of the FCC began to subside and the need to mollify it became less important, the networks began cutting back on their television news divisions. It was also around this time that the networks began to realize that there was actually quite a bit of money to be made from television news, just not with the more fact-driven, objective reporting they had so strictly enforced for decades. With their diminished fear of the FCC and realization that serious money could be made from television news if they were willing to sacrifice their integrity and objectivity, the networks began to transition their television news from, as Koppel describes, “a public service to a profitable commodity.” This descent into the cynical, single-minded pursuit of profit at the expense of, as Koppel called it, “real news” was actually predicted by Paddy Chayefsky in his 1976 film, Network, which seems borderline prophetic in hindsight.

Local newscasts, on the other hand, while far from immune to the general decline in journalistic integrity that has occurred over the past few decades, have largely maintained the focus on facts and objectivity that was instilled in them during the formative years of television news. The cause, and even the validity, of that statement, can’t be said definitively, but I believe it’s due in large part to the fact that, since local newscasts were always profitable, television stations didn’t need to make the same transition from public service to profitable commodity that their networks did. As for the validity of that statement, I think the amount of trust the American people have in local news organizations, as mentioned previously, lends a lot of weight to the claim that local newscasts are, at least in comparison to cable and network news, fairly neutral and objective in their reporting of the news.

 

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Guns and Crime

Journalist tries to buy a gun at Walmart, learns it’s harder than she thought

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Journalist tries to buy a gun at Walmart learns its harder than she thought

Hayley Peterson seems to be an honest journalist. This is rare in the hyper-tribal state of modern media in which news reports almost always push an agenda first, reporting the news second and only as a necessary platform for the aforementioned agenda. With the majority of journalists leaning left, this often means attaching to the Democrats’ agenda on gun control, open borders, and other pressing issues ahead of the 2020 election.

Business Insider, which is rated as “left-center” by Media Bias/Fact Check, has been building a reputation as a reliable news source after spending a few years trying to match Vox and Buzzfeed. Today, their bias is mild and their reporting is usually honest, as is the case with Peterson’s report on buying a firearm from Walmart…

…or at least trying to.

This is an interesting read for those who may be considering purchasing a firearm from Walmart or anywhere else as it highlights a few of the pitfalls that can be avoided. As an expert on Walmart, Peterson has regularly covered their employees’ campaigns to force the retail giant to stop selling firearms altogether, but this was her first foray into trying to actually buy a gun. In short, it’s not as easy as many politicians try to paint it as being with requirements for background checks and necessities for licensed personnel present that we rarely hear about in the media.

I tried to buy a gun at Walmart twice, and roadblocks left me empty-handed both times

I went to Walmart with the intention of buying a gun last week as part of an investigation into the placement, selection, marketing, and security of firearms in Walmart’s stores, and to learn more about the retailer’s processes governing gun sales.

My journey to bring a gun home from Walmart turned out to be far more complicated than I expected.

Business Insider or Haley Peterson could have easily scrapped or reframed the story to perpetuate the trend of “Walmart sell gun bad.” Instead, they delivered an honest, albeit still slightly biased, representation of her experience.

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Culture and Religion

How many times is the left going to claim the ground is shifting in the gun debate?

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How many times is the left going to claim the ground is shifting in the gun debate

While Cory Booker is channeling George Orwell, once again the ground has supposedly shifted on Liberty Control.

Good news, the Left has come up with some ‘new’ memes in their synthesized self-righteous condemnation of Liberty in the midst of a ‘Serious Crisis’. Anyone on social media will recognize this all too familiar pattern that will begin the moment the news breaks of a tragedy they can exploit:

  • The Left will immediately politicize the pain of others – while projecting that on everyone else.
  • ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ are then mercilessly mocked.
  • It will be said that the defenders of Liberty ‘have blood on our hands’.
  • Then the calls to ‘do something!’ – anything, whether it will solve the problem or not.
  • Further restrictions on civil liberties are the made by opportunistic politicians.
  • Demands for laws that already exist on Background checks or Civil commitment.
  • While other Leftists make more demands for gun confiscation.
  • As emotions subside, entreaties for compromise emerge.

This is usually the end stage of the crisis sequence, after all of the juvenile invectives hurled by the Left, after all of the demands that we ‘turn in our guns’, after all of the exposition on how our basic human rights are to be controlled – by them. The national socialist left will realize they won’t be able to bully us into giving up our basic civil liberties. Hence, they will look to exploit something – anything – out of the ‘crisis’, they will try to force us into a compromise whereby they give up nothing and we move down the slippery slope to gun confiscation once more.

Afterwards, any ‘compromises’ or ‘bipartisan’ agreements that restrict the human rights of the innocent will inevitably fail to work. Then when another tragedy takes place the whole sequence begins once again. Existing laws will be ignored in lieu of new laws that do the same thing – while denigrating liberty in the process. This is ‘progress’ to the national socialist Left, seeing each ‘serious crisis’ as an opportunity they can exploit for political gain while never addressing the true causes of these tragedies.

The ‘new’ momentum meme addition to the same old crisis exploitation of the left.

A ‘new’ aspect of the debate has the ground shifting more than the San Andreas Fault. Leftists love their euphemisms, using every kind of synonym for confiscation they can muster. The ground shift meme is no exception, with endless variations that essentially try to exploit the same idea over and over. The problem is that the ground shift meme is only viable once. Then it becomes just one more piece of useless rhetoric thrown out into the ether. The ‘blood on hands’ accusation was the same at one point, now it’s just a pathetic attempt by the left to exploit a crisis they created.

From December 2012 [7 years ago]:

December 17th, 2012

Capitol Hill ground may be shifting on gun control .

New polls suggest elementary school shootings may be changing public opinion.

From last year:

March 1, 2018
Fla. Dem: ‘The ground is really shifting’ on gun control.

Apr 9, 2018
Pa. legislature becomes test bed for shifting sands on gun control.

December 26, 2018
2018 Brought A ‘Tectonic Shift’ In The Gun Control Movement, Advocates Say.

Then this year:

April 24, 2019
Democrats Shed Fear of Gun Control in Momentous Shift Entering 2020 Election.

August 4, 2019
Dayton and El Paso Shift Focus to Gun Control and Racism.

August 20, 2019
The political battle lines on guns are shifting.

It getting to the point that these pieces are merely wishcasting by the Liberty Grabbers hoping to move something that isn’t there.

Cory Booker channeling George Orwell.

It’s one thing to reuse the same meme over and over while trying to pretend it’s brand new, it’s quite another to try and sell socialistic slavery as ‘freedom’. Yes, there is nothing like taking away some people’s basic human rights to make them ‘free’.  In this case it’s everyone’s favorite political ambulance chaser from New Jersey, Cory Booker, trying to sell the idea that fear is supposed to justify the restriction of the common sense civil Liberty of self-defense. Eliminating fear from modern life would of course be impossible and there is no end to the rationalization of government control that could be used with this absurd pretext.

Apparently he thinks that the government and criminals having a monopoly on the use of force will serve to protect liberty because reasons. Since we all know how criminals and governments scrupulously follow the law, he has the perfect solution to the problem. Sadly because of what the left has done to the culture, we are witness to some more of these tragedies. Statistics show that thankfully these are decreasing and there are ways to solve the problem without restricting Liberty.

Unfortunately, the left has a very myopic view of the situation, only seeing opportunities for them to exploit rather than problems to be solved. Perhaps it is time to leave them out of the conversation and consider real reforms that will save lives instead of destroying Liberty.

One final word.

We of the Pro-Liberty Right need to start using one word when it comes to the Authoritarian Socialist Left’s demands that we incrementally give up our common sense human rights. We have compromised over and over without so much as an acknowledgement or thanks from the left, much less any type of compromise on their part.

There are ways to solve this problem without punishing the innocent and confiscating their private property. These need to be considered to solve this societal problem instead of focusing on inanimate objects. As for the Left’s incessant demands that we give up our basic human rights, we only need this one word response: NO!    [Repeat as many times as necessary]

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Culture and Religion

Media’s silence regarding Christian genocide in Nigeria is deafening

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Medias silence regarding Christian genocide in Nigeria is deafening

From January to June of last year, 6,000 Christians, mostly women and children, were slaughtered by Fulani radicals in Nigeria. If you get your news from legacy media in the United States, you probably have no idea this is even happening. It’s a nonexistent story for three reasons:

  • It’s happening in Africa, the most under-reported continent on Earth next to Antarctica, and even that’s debatable.
  • The violence is being perpetrated against Christians.
  • The violence is being perpetrated by Muslims.

These three factors mean the best legacy media will do is yawn. The worst they’ll do is cover it up as the death toll becomes so inconceivable, their silence is becoming unjustifiable, even by American media standards. How many people have to die to catch legacy media’s attention? This is “pure genocide” according to a press release by church leaders in Plateau State.

According to World Watch Monitor, “The Fulani were early adopters of Islam, participating in holy wars, or jihads, in the 16th Century that established them as a dominant social and economic force in Western Africa.”

As @ZionistGirl18 noted on Twitter, the criteria to spark media coverage is completely detached from reality.

Over the last year, things have gotten even worse. The Fulani have formed squads with the sole purpose of going from village to village raping women, murdering men, and kidnapping children. It’s barbarism at the highest level possible for humanity and it’s happening every day. But to get news about it, you have to search high and low for local sources and the occasional Reuters write-up.

Several hundred Christians killed, villages decimated as merciless wave of militant Fulani attacks sweeps northern Nigeria

Hundreds of Christians lost their lives in the first half of 2019 alone as a wave of attacks by heavily-armed, mainly Muslim, Fulani militants continued to gather momentum in an agenda of “religious cleansing” that is aiding Boko Haram’s attempts to establish an Islamist caliphate in north-eastern Nigeria.

Barnabas Fund contacts described the situation as “horrifying” for Christian communities in a recent report that outlined a spate of murderous attacks across at least six regions in 2019, costing several hundred lives, as well as destroying homes and decimating communities. The carnage has gone largely unchallenged by the Nigerian Federal Government.

But there’s another reason this isn’t getting any media attention. There’s a strong delusion hiding the Islamic caliphate that’s spreading across western and central Africa. More attention is paid to the Middle East for obvious reasons, but to the west the disparate Islamic militant groups are quickly forming a powerful force in the form of Boko Haram. Approximately 250 groups operate across the region with little coordination but spreading their terror using the same tactics and with the same goals. This is an ethnic cleansing, a true genocide.

Compared to the Islamic State, Boko Haram seems to be smaller. But that’s only because of the dispersion across the disparate militant groups. When they unify, and they will, Boko Haram will no longer be a group of approximately 15,000 Islamists. They’ll have the population of a small nation with the firepower to cause much more damage than the Islamic State at its peak.

It’s long past time for Americans and the media to pay attention to the atrocities being committed against African Christians. Boko Haram is quickly becoming what the Islamic State only wished it could have achieved.

Image Source: SCMP

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