image courtesy Wiki commons

Looking Back on the Trump Presidency

Posted May 06, 2016
Share To

Two years into the Trump Presidency, the media, (at least those that are still in business - who have not been driven out by the President's unrelenting libel suits) continue to ask themselves, 'how did this happen?'  

How was it possible that Donald Trump, Reality TV Star and developer was elected President of the United States.  Who was to blame?

Ironically, it was that self-same media.

For the media, and for television in partiular, Trump was heroin.

He was a ratings machine.

The more they put him on the air, the higher their ratings and the better their bottom line.  Who consciously works against their bottom line?  

So, during the Presidential campaign, no matter what crazy things he said, (and he said LOTS of crazy things - made lots of crazy accusations - many drawn from The Daily Star and the National Enquirer (particualrly the ones about Hillary having sex with aliens)), the 'news' shows treated them as 'news'.

As with global warming, they gave 'equal time' to both sides. But more than that, they were simply unable (unwilling) to do anything to damage their prescious ratings.

And the ratings were contingent upon having a 'close race'. And a close race was totally dependent upon, well, never really doing anthing to hurt Donald Trump.

As ye sow so shall ye reap.

And so, today, in 2018, we have President Donald Trump. We also have that stupid wall, nearly finished (and don't think that that doesn't provide great visuals); we also have the police hunting down and rounding up illegals (endless tearful separations for Morning News!); and of course, there is the War in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Saudi Arabia and so on...

All in all, the Trump Presidency has been a boon to the networks.

A real ratings winner.

There is a problem when journalism and commercial interests are married as one.

When times get tough, it is always the commercial interests that will win out. They have to. It's a matter of survival.

News is not a commodity.

It is the way that we inform ourselves; the foundation for our decision-making process.

In print, we have a free press. That is, anyone is pretty much able to write or publish whatever they want.  As a result, we have an extremely wide range of opinions and facts.

No one walks into a supermarket and sees a headline on a tabloid that says 'Bat Boy Found On Mars' and believes it.  (No one except for President Trump, I suppose).  We discount it because we have lived with a free press for 500 years.

But when it comes to TV news, we still are 'moved' by what we see. We still 'believe' it  - because since its inception, television news has been a monopoly (or rather an oligopoly) of a few corporations who have total control of what you see and what you learn. And their interest at the end of the day is NOT 'the public good', it is ratings.

If it rates, it rules.

That is how it works.

Which is why the notion of democratizing video journalism is so very critical.

Today, we all, (at least 6 billion of us) have televsion cameras and edit suites and uplink facilities in our pockets.

Use them!

Learn to be video literate - the way 16th Century peasants in Germany had to learn to be print literate after the printing press arrived.

Carpe medium! 


Recent Posts

The world of television before cable had been limited to 3 networks and a handful of local TV stations. But the advent of cable meant that suddenly there were 60, 70 soon to be 100 or more new channels. And all of those channels needed content. But where were they going to get it from? A huge market for content had just opened up.

Q: What do TV news and Netflix have in common? A: They both appear on the same screen. They both tell stories.

This morning, I went out early to buy my copy of the weekend FT — a great newspaper, by the way. I was a bit surprised to see that my regular newsstand, on 6th Avenue and 55th Street, had exactly 3 newspapers for sale — one copy of Baron’s and two copies of The New York Post. That was it. No FT, no NY Times, no Washington Post, no… nothing.

Share Page on: