News Business is a Business

Austin Cline laments the fact that the news media is giving an “undeservedly large amount of attention” to the death of Anna Nichole Smith and the ensuing legal wrangling and to trivial matters such as Britney Spears’ decision to shave her head. While our politics are virtually 180 degrees apart, we agree on the relative merits of these stories.

The bottom line, though, is that the business of journalism is business. That for-profit businesses lead with the news that they believe, correctly it turns out, that their audience is most interested in should hardly be surprising. That’s how they sell advertising, keep and expand their audience, and ensure their employees can feed their families and pay their mortgages. The fact that “corporations are now pretty much in control of the network news divisions” is nothing new. Further, General Electric and Time Warner are more able to absorb losses than would be a small group of private owners.

More importantly, these fluffy stories pay for the stuff Cline and I find interesting. There’s hardly a dearth of good reporting on matters of war, international affairs, and domestic public policy. Indeed, there’s more of it than most of us can keep up with.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, Media, Popular Culture, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. has a thought provoking post on how our media is failing in their time honored mission of informing Americans and Joe Gandelman expands on that theme. Both are must read posts if you’re interested in media issues. Meanwhile, James Joyner disagrees and says the fluff pays the bills. He goes on to say there’s “no dearth of good reporting on matters of war, international affairs, and domestic public policy. Indeed, there’s more of it than most of us can keep up with.” But he misses the

  2. bookmarks in their own Internet browsers. This will only spell bad news for the MSM, and rightfully SO. And it will be a great relief to America once this happens… Related Blogger Articles: Jesus’ General; The Reaction – By Michael J. Stickings; Outside The Beltway ***** MemeOrandum has linked to this post Technorati Tags:  Anna Nicole Smith, Bloggers, Blogging, Current Events, Headline News, Headlines, Joe Gandelman, Journalism, MSM, News, News and Politics

  3. netZoo says:

    PBS Frontline series: Dean Baquet: Kos: Interviews from Parts I & II are here. Also, read Joe Gandelman’s excellent post sizing up today’s entertainment-obsessed news media (see also here, here, here, and here.

  4. Jesus General headlined “Journalism as Entertainment: Should News Inform or Just Entertain? ” “Outside the Beltway” proprietor James Joyner’s has February 25, 2007, comment on Cline’s post headlined “News Business is a Business Gandelman’s post was also inspired by Cline’s commentary. Regardless, it’s a good discussion. Posted by Munir Umrani on Sunday, February 25, 2007 at 04:28 PM in Opinion & Analysis, World Media

  5. Jesus General headlined “Journalism as Entertainment: Should News Inform or Just Entertain? ” “Outside the Beltway” proprietor James Joyner’s has February 25, 2007, comment on Cline’s post headlined “News Business is a Business

  6. has a thought provoking post on how our media is failing in their time honored mission of informing Americans and Joe Gandelman expands on that theme. Both are must read posts if you’re interested in media issues. Meanwhile, James Joyner disagrees and says the fluff pays the bills. He goes on to say there’s “no dearth of good reporting on matters of war, international affairs, and domestic public policy. Indeed, there’s more of it than most of us can keep up with.” But he misses the point.

  7. Archives December 2006 August 2006 June 2006 May 2006 April 2006 March 2006 February 2006 [IMG Outside The Beltway | OTB] Some Generals May Quit if Bush Orders Iran Attack News Business is a Business Virginia Apologizes for Slavery and Exploiting Indians AP Smears Romney With 155-Year-Old Family History Mob Rule at Digg OTB Caption JamTM Milton Friedman on Blogging New Republic Goes Canadian, Bi-Weekly

  8. Nick says:

    That’s right, where the consumer goes, that’s what the media will report. They get the ratings report every night, so if it’s high, they’ll continue to report on it.

    I experience the same thing with my blog. I have this one post about a fastfood mascot (Jollibee) doing it with another mascot, and it received traffic through the roof.

  9. John Burgess says:

    I will happily give my custom to the media outlet that says, ‘Enough is enough’ and drops all coverage of ‘celebrity’.

    But I guess I’m in too small a demographic to make business sense.

  10. About twelve years ago was the first time my disappointment in news reporting escalated to the point I decided to not waste my time viewing or reading it. My prediction that OJ’s trial, etc., would dominate TV for a few years had occured and enough was enough. My information stream was limited to financial and sports television. Between CNBC and ESPN it was amazing I didn’t miss anything since major world events were mentioned in those sources and very few bottom feeder stories were displayed. The number of accident, crime and other morbid curiosity pieces appeal to the largest demographic spawning “reality tv” and other nonsense.
    I have not subsribed to cable in more than five years and my “off air” consumption is extremely limited. The internet is my main source of information. It has problems too but the choices and content selection offer analysis and contrast not found in traditional sources.

  11. […] evening and won’t be able to update this with more link. Posted on February 25, 2007 | Permalink | Categories Entertainment, Media Criticism, Corporations, Media, TV News | “>Comment #1”>Hospital Directory » Should News Entertain Or Inform — Or Both? said, February 25, 2007 at 8:23 am […] Original post by Joe Gandelman and software by Elliott […] “>Comment #2 “>Holly in Cincinnati said, February 25, 2007 at 8:28 am I must be an old fogey – I expect news to inform not entertain. When I got a “Breaking News” email about Anna’s body, I yelled at my computer “This is not Breaking News!” […]

  12. […] Also, read Joe Gandelman’s excellent post sizing up today’s entertainment-obsessed news media (see also here, […]

  13. Vox Baby says:

    Our Distracted Media…

    When I read this post at OTB, I found myself thinking back to the summer of 2001, when, with the benefit of hindsight, the news media might have been usefully employed in aggregating up the disparate pieces of information that led to 9/11. Instead, w…..