To be honest we didn't watch CNN much, we had one of the original ginormous satellite dishes and could get 300+ channels without paying extra for any of them. Yes that happened at one point. You paid a low flat fee and could access whatever the hell you could find out there in space. We found feed stations where you could watch the reporters get read, we got BBC and other British and German stations and tons more things out there. The guide showing what was on was huge! We still got most of our news from Peter Jennings and newspapers though.
I moved out and went to college for a year or two, I didn't have my own TV and the net was still in it's infancy. I did however catch Fox News and CNN from time to time at work or stores when I was out an about doing errands etc. I soon noticed a shift in how things were reported. It seemed less and less time was spent on getting an actual story and more and more time was spent on trying to frame and phrase a story in the most eye catching, heart wrenching way possible. Less and less topics of actual importance like the environment, global or even national politics were discussed. Kidnapped girls and sensationalist news was slowly taking over. Election cycles were a disaster, there was no reporting of actual facts anymore, it was all arguments, gotchas and speculation. CNN and Fox had all this time to report on voting records, who was donating to who, voter suppression etc. and never did. Environmental or scientific news was shunted off into a dark closet which was never to be opened and investigative reporting became a thing of the past.
Around this time I had discovered blogs, DailyKos in particular and noticed that average, every day people were doing a better job at reporting actual facts and stories than the media was. I learned so many things just reading a blog here and there and a disturbing trend began to show itself. Things I saw reported on DailyKos and a few other blogs would be reported days later on the news and what was reported was never as complex or in depth. What was worse is quite often it would be incredibly biased and misleading.
Then came the court ruling allowing Fox News to lie without any repercussions, right around the time of the Guif War when a great deal of spin and a distinct lack of actual investigative reporting was done. Any time I caught the news broadcasts there was a distinct impression that they were trying to induce fear and groupthink and not actually ask questions of the people in charge. Much of it was media manipulation by those who had an agenda, some of it was just bad reporting and a great deal of I chalk up to the ratings race. Every news station out there wanted to get the "scoop" even if it was inaccurate or just down right wrong. When they were wrong, they tended to not correct themselves or in anyway change the constant repetition of what the lead story was. They'd rather be first with the wrong story then second or third with the right one.
So how does all this translate into me sharing links on Facebook and retweeting things about Ferguson? Twitter has proven itself in several crisis situations now, people post, share, plan, sympathize and support each other and I have noticed that the media is responding to the news on Twitter rather than actually investigating on it's own. I decided I may as well go to the source than wait for the media to catch up. I am also highly intrigued at watching just how the distortion of a story actually works. I can watch things get posted on Twitter by people on the ground then google the main stream media and see just how much is getting left out, rephrased or selectively presented to present a certain view.
The race riots of the 60s, the Vietnam and Gulf War and several elections have always had accusations of media distortion and agendas. of the "people in charge" filtering things out. This is the first time I have actually been able to see it in action and it's incredibly disturbing. Even more disturbing is the fact that news outlets seem to not understand the true nature of what's actually going on. Ferguson, to me, is more than a racial issue, a justice issue or even a civil rights issue. It's showing the fundamental problem with how the media has been monopolized, corporatized and shifted in the last 10-15 years to not report the facts, but to deliver a story. There once was a time where stations were not all owned by the same few people and presented actual knowledge. There were always shady papers and reporters but back then reporters, news outlets and most people in the media held themselves to very strict standards of vetting, fact checking and actually wanting to get to the truth. Those days appear to be gone and the best source for facts are unpaid bloggers and Twitter accounts.
I wonder if the great reporters that have passed on are rolling in their graves or cheering for the people that are doing the hard work and taking the risks. I have a feeling it's a little bit of both.