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31 August 2016


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I am a dinosaur who watches local ABC, world NBC, News Hour and Maddow. Also, check Huffington, McClatchy, and read the LA Times. Does that make me a "junkie" dinosaur?

David Lentini

In 2016 only 8% of all Americans get their evening news from CBS, ABC, NBC, MSNBC, CNN and FOX. That helps explain the ignorance of the American public.

That only makes sense if these networks actually provide reliable information. After 9/11, Iraq, and the financial crash, that's a very debatable proposition. The huge influence of corporate control over the major news outlets suggests that Americans are that stupid after all and are looking for some sort of trustworthy information.

Mark Gaughan

It's hard to teach a dinosaur a new trick.


Yes, where do people get their news? And how much credibility does it have? very important questions.

Great post with lots of informative statistics, but the last paragraph is a bit contorted. The fact that "only 8% of all Americans get their evening news from CBS, ABC, NBC, MSNBC, CNN and FOX" does NOT explain the ignorance of the American public, IMO. I stopped watching TV to get my news years ago. First of all, it's inefficient when I get the same info online in a fraction of the time (plus I have access to more reliable news sources) and second of all there is so much propaganda/spin/opinionating that it's not worth watching.

MSM television is mostly propaganda and gossip, I don't even think of it as news any more for the most part. Therefore I do not agree that people not watching the TV news "helps explain the ignorance of the American public." The people that I know that get their news from TV are not well informed of the reality of foreign affairs or economics, but they are well informed of certain cultural and political viewpoints and beliefs that are highly tribal and emotionally oriented. This brings up the question of what it means to be "informed" in today's world.

I think this paragraph makes the key point:
"There has been an explosion on the digital front but that is truly chaotic and is far more fragmented. The fragmentation aspect is the key. 25 years ago there was a core of news publications that provided cultural unity of sorts and helped create a public consensus. That’s no longer the case. The rapid spread of social media has created the equivalent of electronic lynchings. There is no consensus and their is no control. I suppose this is both good and bad."

I have attempted to point out to friends and family that there are many alternative news sources out there, but they don't seem to be interested. Many are frustrated with the MSM, but are reluctant to look elsewhere even though the info is there. I have offered links, but have not been taken up on it. I sense a bit of fear. Possibly they are afraid of modifying their worldview, or overwhelmed by trying to figure out what's true and what's not as that would take a lot of time and energy (and then force them to adjust their worldview) when their lives are already overfull. The ones who still believe what the MSM is saying.... well, I don't see the point in even discussing news with them other than nodding my head when asked if I've seen a certain headline.

My observation is that the direction of the US will not change unless enough people modify their worldviews. Are we on the cusp of a collective rethink of reality such as happened with the Age of Enlightenment https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_Enlightenment ?

In the meantime, it appears that we are in the "Age of Unenlightenment" or perhaps the "Age of Chaos."

The Twisted Genius

I'm obviously a dinosaur. I don't have cable, so I can't watch FOX, MSNBC or CNN. For that matter, I don't own a smartphone and seldom carry a cellphone. I usually watch the half hour of national news on ABC after the local ABC news. I'd watch the PBS News Hour if the signal was reliable. I do read my local newspaper every morning, the print edition of the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star. Besides SST, I review the Google News headlines fairly regularly. I only read and research further those stories that peak my interest at the time. I avoid all talk radio like the plague, except for "Car Talk."

I do read several several boat building/nautical blogs and I think all those how-to videos on YouTube are reason enough to keep the internet around. I thoroughly enjoy those times I am cut off from all outside news a week at a time up in NY. At night I listen to an Albany AM station with an eclectic oldies format. A little Sinatra now and then is good for the soul. Most hours this station broadcasts a three minute CBS news update. That's enough for me. I heartedly recommend an occasional retreat from electronic news and entertainment (except for the Sinatra) to all members of this committee of correspondence.


Hi Larry,
This piece is the most concise explanation I have seen in years on what is happening with how Americans get their news. I work in Web services and advise clients all day long on where the technology is going. Every time I hear someone complain about traditional media outlets and Left/Right bias, I tell them they are focused a dead technology. By next year(due to hardware advances) Augmented reality will explode into our society. News reports will immerse you in live events in ways that will quickly make traditional media pointless. This clip illustrates what AR is like in your living room -
Imagine an event like the Nice attack, and being able to view the entire scene, with multiple POV's, Holograms stitching data from Drone overheads, google maps and crowdsourced video.

Allen Thomson

Out of curiosity, how many SSTers watch TV -- at all? (Except in hotel breakfast rooms, maybe.)


" Trump appears to have a better handle on that unknown than does Hillary."
Kinda a non sequiter, doncha think? I'll grant he's a known asshole, so that may be the source of gas he ignites.
It is kinda depressing how much of our polity seems to enjoy his atmosphere. I don't think the shift in media tech is as big a deal as many believe.
More like the democratization of mediocre education.


"That helps explain the ignorance of the American public"

Was it Mark Twain that said: "if you don't read the newspapers you are uninformed. If you do read them you are misinformed."

IMO the lack of a viewing audience of something pedaling "misinformation" could mean the exact opposite. I haven't watched the news in a decade, as I found it pretty useless, I research on the internet, and filter it myself. I found it better to listen to the Hezbollah leadership (etc) directly and make my own decision on what they have said, rather than getting a sound bite form some paid talking head on any MSM news channel. You want to know what Putin thinks? Go to YouTube and listen to one of his 3 hour Q&A sessions, then you will will have a better idea and can base your opinion on what he said not what someone tells you he said.


That pertains to the "general population", but that is not who traditionally votes in the USA. Be interesting to see where registered voters get their "news".


I think the ignorance of Americans is better explained by past practices with regard to broadcast "new" than by current and evolving habits.



As some of you know I was a hired consultant for several shows/networks after 9/11. I found both the producers and "the talent" (on screen people) to be mere technicians of communications and remarkably ignorant of the world. They are simply instruments of their corporate owners, sponsors and the government that intimidates them through access denial. What you see on TV news is the expression of the self interest of the "journalists" in applying the editorial policy given to the every day. When the monyed interests behind this process decided I was "dangerous" to their goals, I was eliminated. pl

different clue


I was going to have said the same thing. People getting their news from the listed MSM outlets and from Limbaugh may well be actively disinformed. That is rather worse than being ignorant.

And the arrival of Augmented Reality means that people getting their AugReal input feeds from the same old sources will be even more deeply and effectively disinformed.

So a separate question also arises . . . how many people are getting their news inputs from SST, Naked Capitalism, etc. ( and the links which readers bring to all such places)?


I'd say you were redirected to a better place. Perhaps an even more effective one.
They are defending their own old order by cheapening it, hoping to get out before the music's over.
Then, turn out the lights.

scott s.


And even "registered voter" is somewhat dubious. Here they are constantly tweaking the law to make it easier to register, and currently propose mandatory registration. Then they lament that actual votes cast as a percentage is going down. For some reason they never consider that forced registration citizens probably aren't highly motivated to actually vote. But then the proposed solution is 100% mail-in balloting.

Charles Michael

Thanks for a these figure,very informative and for and old hand in media planning and research they are answering a lot.

Does watching TV informs you or make you stupid ? does the power of image block all capacity to undestand the full history of a situation, specially the multi faceted sides of a complex one? does political education and civic sense can be transmitted by news channel ?
For a news freak like me, TV is good in some spectacular events and useless about non-biased informations and long term investigations.

I was a news papers reader up to when they started being lead by the Tv news and repeat the same propaganda and that means liars.

So I got my information from various webb sites, selected and followed and cross checked. SST is one of my favorite, thanks a lot .

The Porkchop Express

I don't think it's so much a question of from where do Americans get their news but what the content of of that news is that Americans get. Beyond substandard education in the humanities, civics, and history in the US (result of poor schooling, financial choices, and institutional weaknesses--not news outlets), in order to get a better idea of an actual news story these days one has to, almost by necessity, read multiple sources of the same account to get a 'truer' sense of what actually happened. And that's all provided you have the time and wish to put in the effort to do so.

I'm not sure why but I would guess that has a lot to do with the profit model based news. Not that it was much different in the 60s, 70s, or 80s, but most news organizations have almost entirely given up on at least a modicum of pretense toward the public good model of reporting and moved with lightning efficiency towards the almighty $. That and many of the main stream outlets have also become brazen propaganda outlets for a particular candidate, ideology, hobby horse, [fill in the blank].

"Public consensus" & "cultural unity" that may be true, but the idea that forging a consensus and creating unity through the dissemination of information--particularly by organizations that expect to gain financially from what they are presenting--is a scary thought.

Allen Thomson

FWIW, my question about any TV at all aligns with Valissa's post a couple upstream. Traditional media have, at best, become only one stream in a whole chaotic flow. Picking and choosing in a river of chaos isn't easy.

Me, I kind of like it.


I still watch NBC Nightly News and NewsHour every day. When I first moved to the National Capitol Region in 1974 I marveled at the depth and clarity of the Washington Post compared to the Portland or Seattle newspapers. Today, anything on corporate media concerning the wars, economics, politics, or globalism is pure agitprop. Anyone who had served in the quarter century war, have unpayble student loans, are homeless, or have gig jobs know something isn’t right. Perhaps 10% of the population in the West are members of the “Ancien Régime” who are doing quite well. Another 20 to 30% of the population like me are dependent on the government pensions, Social Security or other safety nets to live. Mitt Romney said 47% are leeches. The old structures will survive as long as the majority wants it. But, the World War and Disaster Capitalism are spreading chaos across Europe. It is sure to jump the Atlantic Ocean and ignite North America.


One of the issues with the flashy technology is that it simply speeds up the process of identifying and guaranteeing niche markets. Once that's done one can provide a tailored message to the recipients. For example here's court approved scanning of emails so as to "target" appropriate advertising. As if selective pushing of the news feed were not also going on:
Here are some additional examples:


Then there is the outright use of government power like the IRS scandal that is no longer reported on:
Finally a news item from the dinosaur media:

Looks like South of the equator the Pleistocene era constitution of Brazil worked, or at least impeachment worked.


The demise in viewership and readership is not merely because people have moved from one set of news sources to another. There are two other trends at play:

People may have lost interest in what passes as news. For decades the media has put people on a steady diet of entertainment masqueraded as news, and now that people, especially the youth, can readily access "free" entertainment (MMOGs, Pokemon Go, porn, cat videos and the like), they see no reason to stick with drab talking heads barking at each other.

A more interesting trend is that people's coginitive abilities may have degenerated to a point where they simply can't stomach information. They may say they want to "know", but they're in no position to actually face the reality surrounding them. So they follow this guy and that gal on snippetopia (Twitter), irrelevantopia (Facebook) and cuteopia (Instagram). This way they can maintain the self-charade of interested citizens while relinquishing the burden of actually getting to know things.


Unfortunately not enough, most of young under thirty are hooked to SMS and social media on sharing thier own interests and subjects Amou g small narrow circles, mostly non political groups. I have come to understand that's the Borg' preference to that of getting them youngs involved to any form of domestic or forign to get my political affairs.


Like many of the rest of you I read here, and at other online forums, because the MSM don’t provide what I need. The internet, as the post points out, has the information but not enough people are willing to invest the time to learn how to find the sites that have accurate information and then invest the time needed to keep up-to-date. Every area of interest has its ‘good’ sites and it really is not difficult to find them if you suddenly need to know about an area that had not previously caught your interest. Not having a TV and therefore not being in the habit of sitting down and watching whatever is on creates an enormous amount of time. I regularly check the MSM news websites and read the odd article in full more to find out what the sheeple are being told than because I expect to learn anything, the wonder of the internet means this includes all the major foreign outlets so I can compare US, EU, Russian, Chinese and everyone else’s propaganda to try and find out what others are likely to think.
There is one point the post did not cover and is critical to the discussion. It is funding of the media. Murrow warned of all this in his ‘wires in a box’ speech and now we have, what were the global media gatherers, cutting all their foreign correspondents and using wire sources. When a big story breaks in Lima or Nairobi there is no ‘our Kenya correspondent’ story by someone who has been in country for a while and knows who’s who and has sources they can talk to. What we get now is their foreign correspondent who arrived by plane from Europe this morning and recites a script to camera for a 30 second spot and leaves. The internet killed the print media and with it its advertising revenue and they have not yet found a new mechanism for generating revenue for news content. Until they do they there is only what they are spoon fed by governments and others who have a vested interest in controlling a story. Citizen journalists do an excellent job in collating and filtering information from a very wide range of source – as here – but do not have the time or access an accredited member of the press has which leaves a gaping hole at the news gathering point of the process.
Personally my main gripe is with the editorial decisions as to what constitute ‘World News’ and the fact they assume, probably correctly, the audience is ignorant of the background to any story so you get several ‘cut’n’paste’ paragraphs which preface every story on any given subject followed by two lines of new information. There is so many important events occurring all over the world on any given day several of which may have the potential to precipitate a real crisis and yet ‘Lost dog finds its way home after 300 mile journey’ and its ilk still find their way on to the World News front page.[EndGripe]


Jahiliyyah, perhaps?

Nancy K

My husband and I stopped cable TV years ago. We listen to the radio, read sites like SST, read the BBC and foreign newspapers on line and subscribe to Foreign Affairs and The Atlantic Monthly. We listen to no talk shows radio or computer. We are definitely dinosaurs, the only cell phone we have is a cheapie that we buy minutes for when we travel. Our children laugh at us, even my mother who is 91, has 2 TV's with cable and an IPhone which she regularly uses. However we do vote and are somewhat involved in politics. When we travel we rarely stay in hotels that have TV's but if we do we are always shocked at how bad cable is. I hate all of the commercials.

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