By Dylan R.N. Crabb
Who do you trust when you can’t trust anyone?
Trust takes time to build and can disappear in an instant, so it takes long-term planning to maintain trust with a person. Building trust requires thinking ahead about the repercussions of your actions on other people – sacrificing quick pleasure today for more pleasure in the future. That does not sound conducive to a 24-hour news cycle in which a news station must develop new methods of holding the attention of an audience in a society that rewards instant gratification more than long-term planning, a society that records success in quarterly reports with the expectation of indefinite growth.
“Why don’t people trust the news? Concern about bias, spin, and hidden agendas (Ricardo Bilton, Nieman Lab, 2017)”
The 24-hour news cycle has ruined the news industry – it’s no longer about effective journalism with an intent on holding power accountable to people – it’s about voyeuristic, sadistic, and instant pleasure for the worst aspects of ourselves. We are not going to find content of substance on the “mainstream” networks designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator of the public and there is a shift taking place from traditional forms of media to new media. Some new media stars (commentators, pundits, call them what you want) are gaining their own audience by mocking the old guards, making substantive new content through satire.
Let’s compare an interview from BBC’s Newsnight to it’s satirical counterpart by rising YouTube entertainer Wizard of Cause:
Both of the above videos inform the audience about the people involved in the interview but which of the video is more entertaining?
If media spokesmen want to regain the trust of the public, I think the first thing they need to do is place more faith in the public, particularly their audiences. Rather than dumbing down content to make viewing require less effort to undertake, trust that the viewers can figure things out for themselves. Perhaps newsmen can learn some things from comedians.