Home >> Opinion >> The Mainstream Media Won’t Change Until the Ratings Game Is Removed

The Mainstream Media Won’t Change Until the Ratings Game Is Removed

There is a lot of complaining about the disingenuous nature of the mainstream media, and rightly so. Most news outlets have morphed into what the National Enquirer used to be before they attained a modicum of credibility.

Or, perhaps, it’s just that the news media has devolved that far.

But, there is no hope of relief from the sensationalism and their penchant for stretching the truth because in today’s news media ratings are more important than delivering the facts and the truth.

If a news program doesn’t get the necessary ratings to compete in their time slot — if they can’t attract advertisers — they do not survive. Today’s “news” has to be “sexy”; it has to be “breaking,” “scandalous,” and fast-paced. It’s got to “sell.”

It is in large part because of this that there is very little “journalism” in today’s mainstream media newsrooms.

Facts must, necessarily, give way to supposition, conjecture, and theory when they aren’t scandalous enough. A five-minute conversation about bad sushi between President Trump and Vladimir Putin is — through supposition, conjecture, and opinion — transformed into a treasonous collusion that tossed an election.

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Of course, it doesn’t hurt that political ideologues control the mainstream media newsrooms. They can use the excuse of a need for ratings to justify their “sexy” emotion-based approach to skewing the narrative to the left. The two, together, are a recipe for 1984 type propaganda come to life.

Understanding that the progressive left does not intend to surrender their hold on the news information apparatus, the question becomes how do we force the mainstream media complex to at least cease from advancing blatant falsehoods into the public square.

The mainstream media is protected by the First Amendment, and Thomas Jefferson rightly alluded to the fact that we need a free press if we are to remain a free country. So, how do make a free press accountable to the truth?

Many say that it is the ratings game that holds them accountable. But people are habitual creatures. The New York Times, CNN and MSNBC blatantly lie, and the consumers of those lies — even when they know the lies are deliberate — continue to consume the products. So, there is a vulnerability in that argument.

An old friend of mine once pondered the idea of using lemon laws against the purveyors of non-truths in the mainstream media. After all, the consumer is buying a product with the expectation that the truth — accurate information — is being delivered.

When a media outlet skews the truth, for whatever reason, they are selling you a defective product and doing it intentionally. If it were a car, major lawsuits would result. Why not a mainstream media information provider? Laws would have to be enacted, but the mainstream media is selling a product; they make money (read: profits) off of what they do.

Then there is the idea of having full fidelity to the First Amendment but mandating that mainstream media organizations be non-profit entities, thus removing the “ratings game” entirely.

This could be achieved by creating tax incentives for companies and corporations for the costs of airing news channels, and printing and operational costs, including salaries. Gone would be the days of high-priced “news stars.”

These are just two possible remedies for that situation in which we find ourselves. I am sure there could be many more, both private and public sector. But the truth remains, as long as news has to “sell” to achieve ratings, Progressives will use that “reality” to advance political agenda narratives that center on non-truths, innuendos and agendas, all in the name of the “ratings game.”

Until something changes – or a committed group of financiers set themselves to creating a new media outlet wholly devoted to the truth, ratings be damned – the people will have to suffer the insult of the mainstream lying to our faces.

To paraphrase musician David Lee Roth, we will have to “eat it and smile.”

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About Frank Salvato

Frank Salvato is a managing partner at TR² Consulting Group, LLC, an organizational and media strategies group. He is the host of The Underground podcast as heard on iHeart Radio, Pandora, Spotify, and anywhere podcasts are heard. His writing has been recognized by the US House International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for Conflict Prevention. His analysis has been published by The American Enterprise Institute, The Washington Times, and Accuracy in Media, and is nationally syndicated. Mr. Salvato appeared on The O'Reilly Factor on FOX News Channel and is the author of six books examining internal and external threats facing our country. He can be heard twice weekly on “The Captain’s America: Third Watch” radio program syndicated nationally on the Salem Broadcasting Network and Genesis Communications affiliate stations.

4 comments

  1. Many decades ago, when I was young, my employer was a well known employment agency where the “art of the deal” was selling with words….with the words being “sex sells” and ‘sell the sizzle”. As capitalism dictates, there was competition to ‘beat the other guy”. I’ve often wondered if it’s the ‘gene’ that causes us to ‘rubber neck at an accident’ and to gravitate towards ‘sexy’ is the same one that ‘justifies this behavior . Whether it is or not, I suspect it’s here to stay.
    The visual media, FOX included) has added short skirts, plunging necklines and very high heels, just in case there’s a noise distraction or if you accidentally are actual ‘listening” to the reader/editorializer.

    News was intended to ‘inform’ not entertain. “Showmanship” is not the mark of a quality broadcast. Facts are….Seems reaching out to old fashioned, multiple small audience radio in the heartland blogs with contributors that verify sources first and asking readers and listeners to help spread the word may be our best shot at restoring journalism and actual reporting. Participation ‘podcast’ often draw attention to issues and can be informative

    Setting up a podcast or blog that is effective is more difficult than many would imagine, but they are of definite importance in this day of technology. A friend of mine is diligently working with a group to establish a very promising format …..Underground USA….

  2. The media are who they always were. Trump has just pulled back the curtain to expose the wizard to all except the most partisan..
    subtlety, adept manipulation, omission,pretense….all exposed.
    Lack of ethics, honor,truthfulness,patriotism are all exposed.

    THE ANSWER …alternatives to mainstream media that make mainstream media increasingly irrelevant.
    Ratings,money mean nothing to the owners of these organizations. They see their job as manipulating public opinion and they will continue to attempt to do that regardless of their economic condition.

  3. Joseph O'Donnell

    The two arguments offered by Mr. Salvato ring eerily close to the progressives when arguing for Obamacare and government taxing and the mandate.

    The only real way to control the media is to regain control of the education of our children. Bring back civics and logic to the core curriculum and we will begin to see a media-questioning society.

  4. Congress has required churches to remain non-profit to retain their tax status. Perhaps requiring media to do so and follow the same rules could reign them in. But, I also fear that it could unfairly silence the press. Controls on speech have historically gone bad for the people. Just my thoughts.

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