Election 2020 – You Are a News Customer

Published On August 19, 2020 | By Tom Huskerson | News and Analysis

Ask your self this question; what do I know and how do I know it? The nation is in the middle of another presidential election campaign and fighting a pandemic that has killed 170,000 Americans. Is anything more important? Again; what do you know and how do you know it?

Right now you life and the health of the nation depends on you getting relevant, accurate and reliably impartial news and information.

Where not to get news

Americans are swimming in an ocean of partisan twisted, slanted, spun and sometimes deliberately misleading news and information. And the sources are both foreign and domestic.

Lets begin by focusing on where not go looking for news and vital information. Too many Americans are putting their faith in social media. Sources like Facebook and Twitter are not reliable news sources. Why? Because anybody can post news stories on those platforms from any source. Would it surprise you to learn that Russian misinformation campaigns have been extremely successful in using these platforms to mislead you? If you don’t know then you have a serious problem. Social media news is extremely unreliable and will leave you dumb with twisted facts.

Nicely twisted facts

The problem with suspect news sources is that they can ingeniously twist the facts. Lets take InfoWars for example. People who follow Alex Jones are fed a steady diet of some the most twisted and inaccurate so called news you can imagine. But I chose InfoWars for a reason. Because, besides peddling strange conspiracies he has become a master at the half lie. Let me give you an example; Jones has claimed that “thousands” of Muslims celebrated the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. That maybe true but Jones has a math problem. There are billions, that’s billions with a capital “B” in the world. A few thousand probably did celebrate. But what about the other billion or so? In reality the Muslim world was equally shocked and hurt by the terrorist attack. Most Muslims felt it was a insult to Islam to commit this atrocity.

See how he twisted the facts. His statement is essentially true but completely false in its context. Now you know how twisted and fake news becomes a reality. Jones and his InfoWars program is a clear example of how news and information can be twisted beyond recognition. Jones even claims that the government is controlling the weather.

Mainstream media

But InfoWars is an easy target. We need to examine our main stream news sources. We have some interesting players in the news game. Many of the main stream news sources claim to be impartial but is that true? Manipulation or twisting of the news maybe taboo in professional journalism so how does networks like CNN and Fox News end up being labeled as liberal or left wing or conservative and right wing?

News is a product

To answer this question you have to follow the money. Its called market segmentation. What market segment are you after and how much money will you make? Television news, newspapers, magazines, radio stations, and websites have to make money to survive. News is a business. So what do businesses do? They provide a service to market. The market is the consumer, the service or product is news and information. You study the market, understand the consumer and provide what you believe they will buy. News has become a product. So the product must answer to the market. Fox news is the news product for the more conservative viewer and reader. They will tailor the news these people consume to feed what they already believe is true and factual. In addition they will also downplay anything that will cause the consumer to turn the channel or leave the website. That’s the equivalent of a customer walking out the door. That’s not news that’s business. The same thing applies to CNN or any other news source.

The message must fit the market

The message must support the business. Advertisers pay for that market share. Enter such notable commentators such as Rachel Maddow at MSNBC and Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity. Notice, I labeled them commentators. These people are not news reporters and just barely journalist. They have one goal and that is to feed the viewer what they want to hear. The message must fit the market. All news sources have this at the core of their business model. So these commentators are feeding the consumer. Facts, maybe, but often slanted left or right.

Follow the money

There are few if any news anchors that are as filthy rich as these news commentators. Let me give you example, Sean Hannity is paid an annual salary of $40 million a year. Rachel Maddow makes a paltry $7 million in comparison and Tucker Carlson makes just $6 million. You have to understand what those number are telling you. These people are making those salaries because they deliver markets to advertisers. What you didn’t know was that the average news anchor makes about $50,000 annually. But what about those real news anchors at the major networks like CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN and others?

Scott Pelley CBS news $7 million

Lester Hold NBC News $4 million

Anderson Cooper CNN $12 million

Starting to get the picture?

So who can you trust?

There are sources online that can provide you with quality and unbiased news with little or no corporate censorship.

The Gallup/Knight Foundation survey was utilized to identify the least biased news sources. But you have to understand what it is to be considered ‘least biased.’

According to the “Elements of Journalism” by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel least biased means;

  • Focused on Truth: This means not only obtaining and verifying facts but putting those facts into accurate context.
  • Independence: Journalists need to avoid being influenced by sources in any way, including financial, personal power, or otherwise. 
  • Fair and Impartial: Reporting should present both sides of any issue, and the context of the story should never be left out in order to manipulate the reader’s understanding of the issue. 
  • Serve Humanity: A commitment to use stories to impact the world in a positive way, rather than causing harm.
  • Accountable: Good journalists acknowledge and correct errors or remedy unfair coverage of an issue.

So who, according to the Elements of Journalism, are the most trustworthy news sources? Here are the top seven;

  1. The Associated Press
  2. PBS News
  3. NPR
  4. CBS News
  5. BBC
  6. Reuters
  7. Christian Science Monitor

You are a news customer

As Americans, we have been gifted the constitutional right to a free press. That press is known as the fourth estate behind the executive, legislative and judicial branches. The job of a free press is to watch for, be alert to and respond to the information needs of the public. It was thought by the founding fathers that a free press is intended to keep careful watch over the government and the people and sound the alarm to what is happening.

Unfortunately the capitalist system has seeped into the news industry and done what all capitalist do; they define the market into customers and deliver the product.

Now ask yourself this question, who am I doing business with?

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About The Author

Tom Huskerson Bio Born in Richmond Virginia Tom Huskerson is a military veteran who settled in California after his discharge. Tom attended Santa Barbara City College where he began his writing career as a campus reporter. He worked as an intern news reporter for the Santa Barbara News-Press writing feature stories before moving on to San Francisco. At San Francisco State University Tom studied broadcast communications and began to focus on the Internet. He completed his graduate thesis on Internet advertising. Tom was the first student to ever focus on the Internet as a graduate student at San Francisco State University. After graduation he went to work for Zona Research in California’s Silicone Valley. As a research associate Tom supported senior analyst writing on the latest developments in the Internet industry. During the dot com boom Tom worked for several web businesses as a market researcher and analyst. As a writer and researcher Tom has authored various technical works including a training program for Charles Schwab security. Other projects included professional presentations on workplace violence and hiring security contractors. Tom has also written both fiction and non-fiction works and blogging for a travel website. He has published two books of short stories and completed two novels. Tom is the owner of Scribe of Life Literature and EbonyCandle.com. Tom is not the chief editor for the OnTechStreet. com. A news and information blog that focuses on tech news for African-Americans. The blog is the result of his desire to inform the African American community of the dangers and benefits of the cyber age. In his blog Tom reports on information security, new and analysis, scams and hoaxes, legal happenings and various topics that arise from the age of information. Tom believes that technology is a necessary tool for black people and they should know what is happening. Tom writes believing that techno speak is for the professional and that valuable information can be communicated using plain language. As a result he has embraced the motto, Less Tech, More Knowledge.

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