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Patanjali Sokaris

Pondering the universe

News is entertainment

The general idea of news is that it provides useful information about events around the world. However, that is not the source of its current appeal.

Information appeals to our mental faculty, prompting us to think about it and how it may affect us. Conversely, entertainment appeals to our emotions, usually trying to get us caught up in the excitement of the moment.

News is not the type of subject matter that creates excitement, but with a change of emphasis and delivery, the emotions of anger, sadness or frustration can be reliably triggered in viewers/readers.

However, 2016 brought the dominance of 'fake news', where facts are not even required to trigger emotions. All that is required is to appeal to prejudices of the viewer/reader, and let them work themselves up.

This places news as just another form of entertainment, especially since it reports on sports, which is just false competition focussed on getting spectators worked up and spending big on merchandise.

News media has been lamenting the decline of revenues, but they only had themselves to blame as they sacrificed striving for accuracy when they abandoned doubling-checking with secondary sources after internet bloggers broke President Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky before them, basically giving credence to the blogger's delivery model while tacitly admitting theirs had been inadequate.

Now, having been labelled 'fake news' by the pathological liar and perveyor of real fake news that they were happy to treat as a joke, the news media are trying to re-establish themselves as legitimate news agencies, but they will have to really lift their game to compete with the new media circus sweeping all before it.

Multimedia news organisations regularly undermine their credibility, by setting up so-called discussions, where an expert in the field being discussed is matched with someone who is seemingly there to provide an extreme counter-position, with little real capability to hold a rational argument, rather like in Monty Python's argument sketch, except that it is not done for humour.

Such intellectual mismatching is just another way of getting viewers emotionally envolved, with those interested in reasonable discussions getting annoyed by the argumental foolishness, and those who hold the extreme views cheering them on, seemingly impervious to being played by the news organisation.

The real problem is that news organisations have been playing their readers and viewers for decades, working behind the scenes in political machinations to get their preferred candidates elected. More recently, the subterfugue has given away to blatant and public harrassment of those they oppose.

However, given some of the poor suitability to govern that some of their picks have been, perhaps they are just creating a fool's play to feed their network's entertainment schedule. Certainly, the current US President seems to fit that bill to a tee.

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