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Customer Service: Buyer Beware

Customer Service: Buyer Beware

Am I alone, or do you agree with me, when I say all the mass media outlets these days have become a giant PR mouthpiece for Corporate America? Used to be, not so long ago, the mass media - be it newspapers, television or radio - were in the business of disseminating wholesome entertainment and serious news/information. But by the late 90’s and the early 2000’s they seemed to have lost their way. The television industry in particular took the charge in leading the other media outlets into the gutter. I think it was a sinister plan that was hatched by network television to first dumb down America through the advent of reality television. And follow it up by creating such abysmal standards for programming that their consumers could not discern between in-depth and unbiased reporting versus peddling sensationalism and passing it as legitimate and informative news.

Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s I was exposed to wholesome programming primarily through network television. Then cable television was introduced, which segmented the market based on specific content/genre. Next, it was the pay-channels which provided movies and original programming. Satellite Television and Pay-Per-View were the next in line in the evolution of television. The radio and the newspaper industries experienced similar evolution paths guided by advances in technology. Technology made it possible for the consumers to enjoy 100’s of TV channels, radio stations, newspapers and magazines catering specifically to their needs. But this great benefit came at the expense of diluted content. And during this period, traditional mass media became complacent and was busy basking in the glory of newer technologies creating great wealth for them, but on the flip side, these same technological innovations were paving the way for a game-changer in the field of mass communication called the internet.   

So a new breed of (media) companies took life that capitalized on the emergence and the ubiquity of the internet to deliver to their customers - either to a desktop at home/work or a smart-phone if they were mobile – content that was tailor-made and up-to-the-minute. Traditional mass media customers left in droves to this new, more convenient medium. The plight of the television industry described below is the microcosm of pretty much the rest of the traditional mass media. The networks were already under assault from DVR technology – that lets its viewers skip advertisements while consuming their programming – and were having a tough time delivering return-on-investment (ROI) to their advertisers. With dwindling audiences and advertising dollars, it was a double-whammy for network television.

This resulted in a seismic shift in power from the network channels, to the new-generation web-based media, i.e. Google, facebook, Twitter etc. By the time the folks running the network television realized what had hit them, they were relegated to playing second fiddle to the new breed of brash internet media companies.

So the network channels - in their desperate attempt to hold on to their fast-bolting audiences; their misguided idea to attract new eyeballs; win the ratings war amongst each other; lure back lost advertisers; and finally fill their airtime - abandoned their real, investigative and informative content for voyeuristic stories that appeal more to the entertainment value, and not the intellectual value of their audiences. Also, in their attempt to generate additional revenue streams, they have compromised their programming content to the highest bidder in the form of product placement and endless product promotion masquerading as news-worthy segments.

To conclude, the takeaway from this post is: buyer beware. Because increasingly, the line is blurring between what we used to consider outlets of reliable and unbiased information, gradually transforming themselves into hired guns of the big businesses. They are increasingly compromising their editorial and programming integrity in favor of parroting the corporate line. The morning network shows, like “The Today Show” and “Good Morning America”, and talk shows like Dr. Oz are a few examples that come to mind. 

Image Sources: Wikipedia.org, thewrap.com and doctoroz.com



Last Updated: 2017-10-26 19:39:23

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