Lyin’ for money

As we all know, the media is less-than-perfect. We do not believe most of what we see and hear. Some of it is really, really bad and the rest is worse. We are just not completely trusting of the news anymore. In fact, the remaining BIG news outlets, in an effort to regain some lost credibility, now run ‘fact-checking’ segments.

We do not have faith in mainstream news media and we have virtually none in the internet ‘personality’ outlets (but some are definitely entertaining). The reason we even check in with any of them is simple: where else do you go for info? And some of it is basically, generally kinda true. Probably. Check in with enough sources and you might get some kind of ‘overall’ picture. Maybe.

For example: I know there is a war going on between Russia and Ukraine. I know Russia started it. I know the west has imposed sanctions on Russia and is half-supporting Ukraine. I know a lot of Ukranians had to leave the country. That much I know. After that, it gets a bit blurry.

I know extreme weather events are increasing and increasingly severe. I believe that is happening all over the world. But that is all that I really know for sure about the current state of the climate except that is changing.

And so it goes for some politics, some religion (i.e. pope visits, Dalai Lama, a rogue Islamic cleric, etc), and the economy. I say ‘some’ politics because 80% of the world is not reported on at all (I guess nothing ever happens in Mozambique, Montenegro and Mongolia). Ninety-nine percent of religious issues go unreported (which is a blessing) and, of course, the economy is a mystery at the best of times and especially so in at least 85% of the world. Our understanding of what’s up is still very, very limited and, tho I sense a renewed effort at some fact-finding, I still have much less faith in the media with very few exceptions.

Why is this? I assumed that my cynicism was the result of 74 years on the planet and having been involved in more than a normal person’s number of news stories. Every story I was intimately familiar with, the news got it wrong. After awhile, that inclination-to-error adds up. I started to have doubts on other stories based on virtually nothing…..well…there was one thing that assisted my suspicion and that was that so many stories in so many news outlets sounded so much alike.

And that is because there are only three main news aggregators or wire services that western media utilize.  Agence France-Presse, Associated Press and Reuters. Basically, those three (all good, mind you) find, filter, edit, summarize and distribute NEWS from around the world to their news-distributor customers. They may be good but three is also very limiting. Only local news outlets escaped that giant wire-service filter primarily because the local fry was so small, they slipped through the larger netting.

But – and this is the point – local news was usually more factual on local stories. It has always had a bias that slanted towards the nearest big corporation or advertiser but the weather forecast was accurate, the quotes from the mayor were accurate, the local hockey game scores were right on. News on the local economy, on the other hand, was only so-so. That’s because news runs off of ad revenues and he who pays the piper calls the tune. Industry and business (Chamber of Commerce) pushed for discretion at the very least and suppression on many things (like pollution, gouging, fraud). Local news was good for local human interest, car accidents, plane crashes and police related stuff but noticeably absent from investigative stuff that involved politicians, corporations, government, institutions, and bigger social issues. The sometimes exception to that was the editorial and some special columnists (previously referred to as reporters).

But over the last thirty years or so all that has changed. Firstly, the vast majority (well over 50%) are no longer with us. They were bought up. The remaining have no reporters. There are no editorial opinions. These ‘news’ sources are now just two and three person, employee-run (owner elsewhere) weeklies that only print what is given to them and, of course, sell ads. The editorial is given to them.

Why? Well, it is cheaper that way. More money is made by simply regurgitating pap and PR. No staff required. Radio stations went that way, too (run by computers and robots). Even local television stations only hires pretty faces and simply delivers what their owner feeds them. NO reporters. Journalism is close to dead. Distrust and doubt results from that and distrust and doubt also results in a smaller audience.

News is corporate but we just aren’t buying it like we used to. Instead, we are shopping elsewhere. And the internet wannabes rushed in to fill that demand. Of course, the unqualified and unregulated knew that the audience wanted sensationalized stories, intrigue and expose’s but, not having the resources to do that, they just made crap up. That became so successful a model, Fox rose to the top of the heap and gave rise to second tier liars and fabricators (OAN, Epoch Times). They, in turn, grew a single-guy-with-camera-and-mike junior farm team complete with fake news desks just waiting for their big break. We now had a gutted ‘legitimate’ media supplemented by a cheaper-to-run, more profitable, lying media that is a succeeding rival and a growing group of opinionators like me just adding to the noise.

And it is does NOT stop there. How do the liars and the weakened legitimates get non wire service content? Seems they get that ‘content’ from PR firms issuing press releases. A press release is cheap (free), well-written and, of course, 100% favourable to the client issuing it. Corporate interests now owned the media and the content. Worse, the legitimate news providers also publish and broadcast PR originated pieces! Your ‘news’ is the corporate message ‘merchandised’ to suit your tastes.

There are now thousands and thousands of new PR firms. They are filling the role of the old, hard-drinking, street-crawling, investigative reporters of yesteryear whose stories too often cost too much, ended in dead-ends and caused lawsuits. So much better business using an ‘attributable’ source that gives up the content for free AND buys ads.

The only cost to your news business is that they lie.

PLEASE NOTE There are a few notable independent news gatherers at all levels from the NY Times (big) to the Tyee (small). And some little farm-team wannabes that have a truth conduit in some narrower field (Heather Cox-Richardson, Beau of the Fifth Column). These outlets mentioned are the exception but the exception includes many more unmentioned. One has to select.

9 thoughts on “Lyin’ for money

  1. I think your last sentence in the post script note is the most telling. You have to consider the source of the story. “If it bleeds, it leads” has been with the media for a long time. Filtered “news” has been with the media for a long time. I think in todays media you have to select a number of sources and then arrive at some amalgam of information. Fortunately with the internet, we have many more sources than previously and I still tend to trust BBC,
    CBC, etc. because they mostly employ “journalists” who have a sense of duty to their craft.


    • For me, the most striking point was the growth of PR firms to replace ‘walk-around’ reporters. The ranks of the true journalists have been decimated and PR firms are now, more and more, filling the content void. That alone creates lies and spin, propaganda and obfuscation. What I failed to mention is that these PR firms are NOT just employed to put a smiley face on a chemical spill. They are employed every day issuing ‘we’re the good-guy statements’ and ‘regulation is bad’ statements. These firms fill the newsrooms with press releases and, if the station needs a ‘filler’, they just grab one. Most press releases go in the round file but, if your desk is covered in them, you will use one now and then. It’s just easier to make your written quota if you need to. Voila! One more lie gets broadcast. CBC and BBC do that, too. CBC uses Reuters (British) and AP (American). REAL CBC reporting is now limited to missing Indigenous women, anti-pipeline protests, Pearson Airport and the dysfunction of Canadian politics – and most of that is fed by Central Canada. Foreign affairs, world conflicts, economics and climate change are stories written by the wire services as are any foreign country stories. Are they liars and propagandists in the newsroom? Probably not. But there are no reporters in the newsrooms anymore. There are just copy-and-pasters.


      • Fwiw Reuters has been a Canadian company for some time
        The Thomson family probably Canadas wealthiest are so,because of Reuters
        Key term “fwiw”😉


        • Thanks, Aldo. It’s worth….something……I mean…ownership being Canadian (instead of British) is kinda not the point altho, in a weird way, I am more pleased than I should be. But, as I said, all three of the services do a good job. The problem is that only THREE services collect, process and disseminate the ‘western’ news. #4 is a German service as I understand it but, of course, all of Asia is on some other kind of system. So is the rest of the world. So we have 3 sources that can be bought and sold and those three services are the gatekeepers of information. Still, thank you for that. Nice to see ya again.


  2. We then have the legions of reporters who “go to the Dark Side” of the force.
    How many former Global , CTV, CBC , etc reporters have taken cushy , high paying jobs in govt?
    As PR hacks or Media spokespersons or god forbid….Senate appointees..
    Talk about conflict of interest.
    Its hard to take any of their opinion pieces about Govt when the next week they’re working for the same govt.
    And they expect us to trust them?
    Pamela Martin, or Senator Pamela Wallin or Senator Mike Duffy come to mind.
    Disgusting doesnt even begin to describe it.

    They have earned their dismal ratings and falling subscription rates.
    Perhaps when big business cant afford to fund these shills and all of the media goes dark…..
    A few honest people can start from scratch.


    • I could not agree more. What greater condemnation (if not a felony conviction) could there be for P. Wallin, P. Martin, Mike Duffy to take a senate seat? Or Adrianne Clarkson to become the Governor General? If I was a reporter like that, my entire resume and work history would be (SHOULD be) suspect. What lies and spin did s/he give us to earn the points for that?
      Still, do not forget: Diogenes spent his entire life looking for an honest man.


      • The list goes on and on for media hacks that went into the political realm either FOR politicians or AS politicians.
        The internet has crushed media. For better or worse.
        When I hear about anything that has happened either on the news or internet I immediately google it.
        6pm “news” is literally hours late and info short. With endless, in your face, politically correct spin on it.
        “Woke, Pride, anti colonialist, LGBTQQx2 inclusivity blame sessions to follow after the commercial break….”
        What ever happened to “Just the facts.”?
        Now ? An endless lecture on how we should think ,act and speak.
        Click. Off goes the tv.
        One wonders what historians 100 years from now will think of “The Great Regurgitation” after “The Great Resignation.”
        I guess the MSM should start praying for a massive solar flare to render us back to the 1950’s when we still believed everything they said.


  3. “Still, do not forget: Diogenes spent his entire life looking for an honest man.”
    If we’re going all Greek Tragedy…..
    I imagine myself more to Prometheus with his liver being endlessly pecked out for eternity.
    The Eagle is the media and my liver is my assumed white, male privilege..


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