Fake News!! Propaganda Machine!! News for Ratings!!
These phrases have resounded with renewed vigor in the past decade and a new twist has been added to it with the timely help of social media. When the headlines burst out fresh from the oven from traditional News media, counter theories and hidden agendas pop up in the form of blogs, articles and vlogs of experts, political analysts and social media commentators who tear down the facts and reveal the conspiracy behind it all. The game has gotten more convoluted recently with the revelation that some of the aforementioned souls are paid agents who are just pawns in the larger scheme of things. Bit confused? Let’s start with what motivates media to ‘supply’ news.
News Fetches Bucks
Apart from subscriptions and the like, the bulk of media revenue is through advertisements. Be it viewer ratings or number of followers/subscribers, these stats need to be buoyed up for obvious reasons and so the first to the scene of sensationalism or the brilliance that converts the mundane to morning exclusives are the only hope to survive in this industry. Also, when the competition requires a competitive edge, a benevolent benefactor rises to their aid and so can we blame the poor media moguls or social media leviathans for accepting such tiny breadcrumbs. In exchange for this selfless act, small omissions or modification in the facts, beneficial to the benefactor, is just a trivial price to pay.
Summary: Anything and everything requires resources to survive and Suppliers of News are no different.
Power plays and Peppers
At 8, when our class teacher asks for a favor, do we refuse? At 18, when our significant other asks for a favor, do we refuse? At 28, when our boss asks for a favor, do we refuse? We usually oblige for reasons of our own. Similarly, when the upper echelons in a hierarchy ‘request’ a favor, the News vendors have to put up a gratuitous smile and agree.
Summary: Facts can be created on request and power can sprinkle their own brand of pepper for some Hot News.
Humans Love ‘Alternatives’
Alternative medicine, Alternative music, Alternative sports, Alternative healing; need I go on? Humans love to delve into new territories and when a News report is making its rounds, the juxtaposition of facts and seemingly ‘authentic’ sequence of events, pseudoscience, conspiracy etc. that introduce a novel school of thought that captures the readers’/viewers’ imagination becomes the ‘actual’ truth while the initial report is drowned in a slurry of allegations. We love such tangled and innovative takes for the same reason we enjoy Sherlock Holmes: the mystery.
Summary: Our endless need for something to distract us from the daily grind gave birth to Alternative culture and News is just another one on the deck.
Power, Money and Human Demand are the driving forces that spew out the news that we greedily consume every day. With rising connectivity, we are engulfed with news of varying types and point of views and in the end are left with one debilitating question: So what’s the truth? Tell us what you think in the comments below.