TV News in a Postmodern World: The Jewel of the Elites
by Terry Heaton
By placing the Bible in the hands of commoners, (John) Wycliffe destroyed the secret weapon of the church hierarchy: protected knowledge. His opponents responded with the statement, "The jewel of the clergy has become the toy of the laity."
So it is today as the personal media revolution undercuts the institution of the press, but the energy behind it all is actually much larger. Knowledge is empowering the commoners once again, and the jewel of the elites has become the toy of the masses. It is and will change our culture beyond even that of the Protestant Reformation, because it reaches into every aspect of life.
One of the more ludicrous, unspoken "rules" I broke on a moreorless daily, if not hourly, basis when I once worked in Big Media was that only the chosen few were "allowed" to editorialized. Only the elite amongst the clawed-their-way-to-the-top managers were granted the power to opine on the state of the world at, for instance, daily editorial meetings held by those "entrusted" to cover the news, specifically those, chiefly New Yorkers, "empowered" to decide what was news-worthy that day or not.
This is not necessarily a bad thing, as there must be some kind of organizational method to the madness. However, the co-opting of editorial power by a few required the presence of many lowly worker-bee types to go out and prove them, and only them, right on a regular basis.
If a study came out of some "institution," or think tank, typically a DC-based one deemed worthy or reliable by the managers within the Big Media group, then it was my job to go out and validate that study du jour. To do this, I was required to troll for the omnipotent, validating soundbite to bestow a mark of credibility on the study, and, of course, tie it all up in a tidy video package for air that evening.
For instance, if a study came out declaring that Men Under 35 prefer oranges to apples, I'd be dispatched to "the field" (the field being anywhere outside of Manhattan) and required to shove a mic in the face of Men Under 35 and have them testify that, yes indeed, they preferred oranges to apples. Often times however, I would position the mic and get back 10 responses that declared, "I prefer apples." Perhaps only one or two that particular day would say, "I prefer oranges."
Well, I'm sure you can imagine which of the 10 or 12 soundbites actually made it to air that evening. The Chosen Ones needed only one to validate what they thought "real America" was thinking, despite the 10 or so perfectly good, but conflicting responses soon left on the edit room floor.
This was, and still is sadly, how Big Media operates. It should be no wonder then that when I got hip to the Internet, I got the hell outta Dodge, as did a whole lot of others too, most of 'em a hell of a lot more talented than me.
So Dear Reader, the reason I bore you all to tears with the above tale of Big Media woe is that I'd like to now direct your attention to the full article that set me off on this whole rant in the first place, by Terry Heaton, titled: