The dangers of over-commercialization of news and entertainment have been hashed and re-hashed for awhile now, but with the latest downturn in the economic benefits of news gathering over the past year or so, we may be in for interesting times in the near future. Newspapers are in trouble all over the country. So are television and some radio networks that supply the majority of the American public with “free” or almost free news sources. Coming soon to a computer near you, we hear that many online news sources will begin to charge for news. In a Financial Times report, Rupert Murdoch, laid it all out: Murdoch Vows To Charge For All Online Content. That is no small slice of the news pie, folks!
People are already lining up on one side or the other to state what they will or will not be willing to pay for. We should, however, keep in mind what we are currently “paying for” before we are so quick to line up on the wrong side. Here’s my opinion: I am willing to pay for value and quality, thoughtful content – not mass-produced hysteria or brainwashing. Entertainment and news is awash in the latter because that is what sells!
Commercial radio and television have gotten ridiculous in a relatively short period of time. Commercials are big business and they do drive the direction that programming takes. The ridiculous part is that the cost of advertising has gone through the roof because the cost of programming has spiraled out of control. It is a “which came first, the chicken or the egg” sort of thing, but the result is that it takes too many commercials to produce too little programming quality. We are paying dearly, whether or not we realize it.
One of my pet peeves about the internet is the over-commercialization of it too. It is a dog-eat-dog world out here in cyberspace just as it is over the airwaves. Most of my favorite websites, especially for news gathering, are so covered in ads – with pop-ups and pop-unders and other neat little tricks that bring in revenue to the sites, plus large, looming ads in the middle of text you are trying to read – well, suffice it to say, it is bothersome. I understand capitalism very well, and totally approve of it in place of the alternatives, but when I have to deal with both the effects of capitalism while I try to stay abreast of the encroaching tyranny of modern times, I have to say, bring on more choices!
The overall quality of journalism must not be sacrificed any more than it already has been. We have a mainstream media that is practically state controlled now – even as we are force-fed the most mundane ads commercialism can dream up - while we are trying to glean facts and meaningful opinions. We cannot even escape into entertainment without the heavy dose of brainwashing commercialization overpowering our tolerance. Perhaps it is long past time for us to take a good look at what we are paying for and see if we should demand a much better product from both worlds. Let’s just make sure we send a message loud and clear. We will demand what we are asked to pay for. Quality.
Some are saying that Rupert Murdoch is taking a big risk with his vow to charge for online content, but if he can pull it off with quality, and get rid of the commercialization, it will sell. Maybe that’s a good thing – but I will be watching to see if he tries to have his “pie” and eat it too. In other words, I wouldn’t expect to see commercials, Rupert, and I wouldn’t expect to see anything but a free press at work – not some stand-in, state controlled media.
Now all we have to do is remind those who would entertain us that we are willing to pay for quality – and then remind them what quality is once again.