To start with, let me first disclose the fact that I am not a traditional journalist, and yes, I used a “clickbait” title. I have never taken a single course in journalism, and I was mostly disinterested in politics for years after being raised to be a conservative activist, before leaving the GOP as a young adult.
When I first got into political writing back in 2010, I mostly gave my opinion on current political issues after starting my blog “Whiskey And The Morning After” which included a number of personal stories about fraud and corporate corruption at Sprint.
Pundits and bloggers like myself primarily voice our opinion on a news story, often incorporating other sources, but don’t usually do investigations and interviews. That’s not to put down what we do, but the imbalance of opinions versus facts isn’t necessarily beneficial to our political climate, and I blame this partially for the rise of Donald Trump.
In today’s media, investigative journalism is a ghost of its former self, and usually confined to local news stations reporting on things going on in their area, or by large media networks who have the financial capability to support investigative journalists. These would be entities like the BBC, Al Jazeera, or the New York Times – just to name a few examples.
Basically, unless they’re serving a niche local audience or millions of viewers worldwide, it’s not likely that a media source will put much time and effort into uncovering a story. What the media provides you is simply based on supply and demand – and catering to a market that will consume their content. If an investigative report on a legislative budget proposal gets a thousand page views and a video of a SHOCKING mall fight in another state gets 10,000 page views, guess which subject a media source will likely devote more time producing stories or blogging about?
Some people claim that the media has an agenda, and it most certainly does. Outside of independently-funded political groups or writers, the media primarily has an agenda of making money. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but in order to make a living, websites and TV channels have to cater to an audience – or go out of business. Some less savory sites even go so far as to steal content from others, without credit, but that’s a subject for another day.
The Atlantic explains clickbait as follows:
I’m personally most likely to think of something as clickbait when it seems like pandering, the sort of breathless post with a headline that only serves to reinforce people’s deeply held beliefs (like, “Religion Really Is Important to Leading a Happy Life”) or the sort of post that plays off of self-identity because we know that is how things spread on Facebook (“You Really Were Right to Eat All That Chocolate, A New Study Says” or “What State Do You Really Belong In?” or “Coffee-Drinkers From the Northeast Are Superior Humans.”) That’s what some journalists call sharebait, which feels just as dirty as clickbait, if not more. It’s the sort of headline people will share without really reading, because they want that headline on their Facebook wall. (Source)
This isn’t just the conservative media, there are many liberal media sources who do the same thing, and they’ll accept advertising from nearly anyone who will write a check. Have you ever wondered why MSNBC has commercials from Koch Industries or the fossil fuel lobby? Organizations like Cop Block or Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children pose as political advocacy groups, but make a pretty penny from sources including merchandise sales.
In the interest of full disclosure, this is a part-time job for me which I love dearly, and Forward Progressives relies solely on advertising to stay afloat with no outside sources of funding. We try to tell the truth and be honest with our opinions, whether they’re popular or not. This is why you see both pro-Bernie and pro-Hillary articles on this website – because we do not simply cater to whatever political wind is blowing on the left.
The problem is that all too often, the media will ignore important stories, sensationalize them, or outright lie in order draw a bigger following. I don’t believe that all of the employees of Fox News or websites like Conservative Tribune or Young Cons are hardcore conservatives, but they know that there are millions of people around the world who want stories that confirm their beliefs – like how President Obama is a “secret Muslim” who’s coming to take their guns.
I suggest you watch the video in its entirety, as well as the others in the excellent series from Jordan Liles, and share it on social media. If we want to change our country for the better, educating ourselves on how the media works is a good place to start.
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