Friday, September 23, 2011

Why We Dumped Fox News (and... )

Whoever described television as a vast wasteland seriously understated the issue.

We're a broadcast tv family, first because we couldn't afford the rapidly rising costs associated with premium television; second because there wasn't much more happening there than broadcast tv.

After a year or two without cable/dish, we have come to a number of sad conclusions. 

  1. There is little to nothing of value on broadcast tv
  2. Broadcast networks don't care and run infomercials to prove it
  3. Public tv is the only ray of hope left
  4. If you want to watch anything other than reality shows, you're screwed
  5. You will not escape with anything approaching information from the news
  6. There is not one original idea in television
I was all set to be happy, not paying for dish programming.  What I discovered is that the quality of broadcast programming is horrendous, almost as if the networks are just biding their time until everyone just gives up on watching it.

In addition, the switch to digital was way overhyped and not in our best interest.  What else could we expect from the FCC and our friends in D.C.?  The signal strength is dismal, it requires additional equipment to function, and the weather has a negative effect on the picture.  There is no fuzziness - it simply stops working.


We always hear about liberal (or conservative) bias in news.  Fox News is known for its conservative bias.  In spite of this, we became a Fox family, largely as my wife tends to watch it a lot (note: we're libertarians and there is simply no news available with a libertarian bias).  Since it's local news, they tend to add in all sorts of local angles, spending way too much time on Things That Are Not News.

When Americans Idle got popular, they used to feature all sorts of stories about it.  Why this qualifies as news is completely beyond me.  Since X Factor is starting up, there are all sorts of stories about it.  In fact, Fox News has become little more than a commercial for X Factor, along with other reality shows that come on after the news.  It's bad enough we're inundated with an insane amount of inane commercials for the shows; now we have to deal with them in the guise of news.

To add insult to injury, Fox News is now all about social networking.  Quite frankly, if I were interested in what's happening on Twitter or Faceyspaces, I'd look there; not my nightly news.  Of precisely what news value is Faceyspaces Friend of the day?  During the recent, ridiculously overhyped hurricane Irene, the news kept going to their `social media center' to tell us what people were saying online.  Even when there is no severe weather, the anchors seem to spend a frightening amount of time glued to their cell phones and laptops, frequently while speaking.

Whatever happened to reporting the news?

My wife finally awoke to this nonsense (or got tired of hearing me point it out) and declared we were switching news stations.  The first night, our local CBS news seemed to spend most of its on-air time on sports, plus a bit of weather.  And a lot of Dancing with the Stars.

We're not getting much world news.  We're getting nothing of value (yes, lefty, that's the idea).  There is still a news blockade on the mention of Ron Paul.  We hear nothing about the protests on Wall Street.  We do get to hear about Brad Pitt's relationship with Jen Aniston.

Bread and circuses.

Our ABC affiliate featured local stories of virtually no import.  Plus stories on reality tv.

My wife and I looked at each other in stunned silence.  The others were almost as bad as Fox News in their own ways.  Television is clearly not the place to go for anything resembling news (regardless of your preferred bias).

I know public television has some nightly news shows.  They're next on the viewing list.  After that, I'm going to continue my video news blackout and get my news from the `net, where there are infinite amounts of bias and sources to be had.  Perhaps back to shortwave a bit too.

Where do you go for a dose of something that looks like truth?

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