Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Does Entertainment Distract Us from the Important Issues?

Since I've been reading the Postman text I've thought a lot about contemporary news. For a college student, I watch a fair amount of news and for the most part I agree with the discussions we have had in class. Majority of the news programming on contemporary television just skims the surface of it's content - the news coverage of the opposing opinions towards gun violence is a great example of insufficient information. However, I think that there are some news programs that dive into subject matters through debates and discussions. The CNN morning program "Starting Point" is more debate centered than news coverage centered and the individuals on the NBC Sunday morning program "Meet the Press" debate significant political issues. The point I'm trying to make is that there is some quality news coverage on television (news coverage that doesn't just gloss over the issues), but I wonder if anyone actually watches these programs anymore. In other words, I think some quality public discourse exists on television, but the majority of the nation does not watch these programs because more entertaining and less intellectually demanding options are available. Thus maybe instead of questioning the quality of news, we should think about the large amount of leisure/entertainment options that are available to us and consider how much the plethora of entertainment distracts us from caring about more important issues.


  1. I agree with the argument you brought up in your post. I think that there is some well-reported television news that gets into issues, but it is often not as consumed by the audience. I think this may be a combination of the time constraint people feel that they are under, as well as the desire to gravitate toward easily accessible information via cell phones to just get the new news they either haven't heard before or to catch up on simply the significant details.

    As a journalism student I think it sometimes is difficult to find that balance because you not only have to cover such a widespread news area, but more often than not, stories as significant as this need multimedia because a single platform, like television, really can't get the story in its entirety across, but needs the details of text for people to read back through, as well as the visuals.

    I think for people to get the best sense of the news they need to invest the time to look at multiple outlets and several different media types, but often individuals are more interested in the light-hearted entertainment focused news, and not the impactful issues.

  2. I think you raise a good point. People prefer to be entertained these days rather than intellectually stimulated - at least based off of box office numbers for films like Transformers or Battleship and the myriad of junk reality tv shows and other news programs like you described.

    Unfortunately people seem reluctant to put in the effort to learn what is going on in the world and in America.

  3. I just don't think that there is more entertainment available to the general public which is distracting us from, what we would consider, important issues. Just because there is something fun to watch on TV doesn't mean it is to blame for the lack of vital information leaking into the general public. What about those individuals who watch CNN or even FOX News and swear by everything they hear? Would we consider them better informed? I just think it's a little ridiculous for us to assume that entertainment is a new thing that's taking place of information. They are both as old as time and their availabilities are numerous. How could we possibly measure the difference?

  4. Entertainment is a glorified distraction, and I have no problem with it. Considering how brief our existence is on this floating rock we call home, we could all use a distraction from whatever problem is on our minds. Entertainment keeps us keeping on.

    I do, however, have a problem with those who binge on entertainment and lose track of reality. With the explosion of entertainment media in this digital age, it's easier to reality as a distraction from entertainment instead of vice-versa.

    I completely agree with you, Derek. There's lots of meaningful discourse occurring in the media. There are people that pay attention but, unfortunately, there are more people that don't.

    How do we fix this? I'd tell you, but I'd rather go play some Xbox.

  5. I really appreciate how the whole analysis of news turning into a convenient hub of up to date information. Many news programs due breach the surface of topics giving us an idea of what happened, but not the whole story. This, I think, is contributed by two things: the desire to keep society happy with processing information and the competitive market of news coverage.

    We've discussed it on the subject of the internet. It's become easier to track down information, to discover questions that pop up daily. I believe the news has simply adapted itself to be more "efficient" with their stories. By efficient I am referring to the gathering of a story is quick and does minimize itself to leave room for more information to disperse, BUT at the cost of thorough, factual stories. With convenience we sacrifice quality. More people may be more likely to watch the news because a story they are generally interested about is delivered in a more speedy fashion. However, it doesn't serve the welfare of the viewer in the end. The programs to take the time and research both sides of the story are long tedious slabs of information. In the world today, we all move fast. Everything has to be quick or it's not a functional and useful part of our day. It doesn't feed the need to have instant gratification of knowing what's going on with this issue. Society has changed. News is just following the blind crowd.

    Secondly, news programs are in constant competition to be number one. The more viewers, the linger the program will stay on air and prosper. Less viewers could fold even a "good" program who delivers quality material. In order to compete, these news programs have to be better and give the people what they want. People don't want the long story. They may say they do, but let's be honest. When your friend is telling a story, sometimes we want to snap our fingers at them and say, "Yeah, yeah, get to the good part." because that's the part that is interesting. It's not selfish or bad. It's human to want to know what's going on NOW. So, stories need to be out sooner, quicker, and somewhat better than the others. Also in order to maintain loyal viewer, new programs have shifted strategically. By having stories or sides to stories that appeal to certain audiences, it grants the news programs permission to be less honest, less factual, and more opinion to retain and gain viewers who love their content. Look at popular TV shows or bands. People like them because it appeals to them. Would you want a show or listen to a band that is not as appealing? I don't think so.

  6. You make a really great point in this blog post. This is something I often wonder also with concerns to written news. I think there's a lot of even-handed news articles out there that do a fantastic job of presenting the issues in a fair light, but I don't know if anyone takes the time to find read them anymore.

  7. You make a really great point in this blog post. This is something I often wonder also with concerns to written news. I think there's a lot of even-handed news articles out there that do a fantastic job of presenting the issues in a fair light, but I don't know if anyone takes the time to find read them anymore.

  8. I agree with your post, and I've even noticed a shift in the news toward entertainment, especially in morning news programs. In middle and high school I would watch the CBS Morning Show as I ate breakfast before school. Now, I wouldn't say that then it was a particularly deep program, but as the years went on, I noticed that the issues they reported on became fluffier. Now, if I happen to catch the tail end of the show, for me it is almost unwatchable, with few important or even interesting issues discussed.

  9. This is true, but also look at the topics of the news. Today someone lost their dog, a solider came home, is high fructose corn sirup really bad for you or even all the car crashes. Any major topic that happens around the world is hardly in detail and has little time spent on it. If people want to see challenging news stories they have to go to BBC? So I agree and think there is a plethora of entertainment that distracts us - I also think that we've become lazy in searching for what is really happening.