By Emily Senger
As CNN continues to report on the latest “crisis in America,” the networks’ stories following the Hurricane Katrina aftermath dominate the CNN airwaves and prove the fallibility of mainstream media with their sensationalized stories.
CNN stories like “Evacuees get hitched in shelter” and “Best friends in need,” about the displaced pets rescue mission glaze over the facts in an effort to find a new angle after weeks of round the clock coverage. Such stories also make it frightening to think that there are people who depend on CNN as the ultimate authority in media.
The reality is that mainstream media is a business which must cater to the demands of the majority to turn a profit, and CNN’s “hitched in a shelter” story is a perfect example of what happens when media takes on a business mentality. The big business mentality in news creates a new brand of “infotainment” to please the passive majority who want to know what’s going on, but only if it’s entertaining and not too unpleasant. In mass news, the gritty reality is filtered out and repackaged as baby brain food for the masses. Real, important issues are pureed into small quantities of an easily digestible paste, which hardly resembles its original form.
It’s not just large American media outlets like CNN that warp the daily dose of news. Even a savvy consumer who reads the Calgary Herald over coffee, picks up a copy of Dose on the train for the morning commute, flips through the National Post at work and comes home to watch the six o’clock news on Global isn’t that savvy after all. Though the different mediums create the illusion of variety, all of these news outlets are part of the CanWest Global media conglomerate, and are feeding the consumer a similar message that isn’t too difficult to stomach.
It’s inevitable that the six o’clock news must alter its message to please viewers and get good ratings so media conglomerates can make a profit. Because of this reality, consumers need to sift through the infotainment for the real news, and question the news as they would question the actions of any large corporation. It is up to consumers to refuse passivity and to put in the effort to seek out alternate sources of media like the CBC or BBC news as a supplement to CNN. The internet, with sites like Google News, makes it possible to search multiple sources for varying perspectives, and is also a great alternative option to get informed.
Most importantly, it is the responsibility of the viewer to critically examine what they view on CNN, or read in the daily newspaper because, chances are, the news is not quite as objective as it’s made out to be.