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Pseudo News Shows

Americans today are awash in news from newspapers, publications of every variety, books, broadcast television stations, radio stations, and cable, including 24-hour cable new outlets such as CNN, C-Span, and CNN Headline News. Yet, the question is raised as to how trustworthy all this news is and especially as to how true a picture of society is presented in these many news broadcasts. The question is raised in part because of the growing apathy apparent in the electorate and because of opinion polls which indicate that "many citizens--perhaps the majority--live in a state of confusion and ignorance about government and political issues." Several reasons can be cited as to why this situation developed, but one reason has been the increasing trivialization of the news and the dedication of more and more time to celebrity news, titillation, and what has come to be called infotainment, entertainment masquerading as news. Infotainment permeates programming including talk shows, tabloid shows featuring celebrity news and crime stories, "reality" shows where camera crews follow police and other law enforcement professionals on their rounds, and similar programs. Over the history of television, most of these forms have always existed, but more and more tabloid thinking has taken over and replaced more solid news reporting. Local news has taken on a tabloid patina with flashy crime stories, police chases, and scandals replacing reporting on local and state issues. Local and network news budgets have both been decreased. Money is what is driving this change, and where news divisions once considered their calling higher than that of the entertainment division, the liens between the two have been blurred so that audience size and profit drives news decisions to a greater degree than in the past.

Neil Postman criticizes all of us for allowing ourselves to become enamored of entertainment and titillation to the point where we cannot s...

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