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The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

News and opinion lines blurred on screen

Staff writer Nick Sestanovich (The Inquirer/2010)

When it comes to TV news, the old saying is certainly true: “No news is good news.”

The most important role of any news organization is to deliver the facts without bias in a timely manner. And this is where the major cable news networks fail miserably.

In their battle for ratings, Fox News, MSNBC, and even CNN have become a hotbed for overblown commentary and false rumors. It’s as if TV executives have chosen to emulate Faye Dunaway’s character in the film Network.

Take Fox News, which for better and for worse revolutionized the news market. At a time when most news outlets resembled C-Span, Fox came along with its flashy graphics and boisterous commentators to set the standard for what was to come.

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But, with it came a new era of cynicism. Those who didn’t trust the news before Fox really didn’t trust the news afterwards because of its alleged conservative bias.

Today, Fox is the highest rated cable news channel, more known for its outrageous commentators than any of its “news reporting.” Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck value emotion over credibility, and uninformed viewers parrot their opinions when discussing pressing issues.

This rhetoric, better suited to a right-wing radio station, stands as the channel’s fundamental flaw (in integrity, not in ratings.)

MSNBC, although not as over-the-top as Fox, is little more than a left-wing alternative. Sadly, MSNBC began with a progressive mix of liberal and conservative commentators, but gradually developed an “If-you-can’t-beat-them-join-them” attitude and tried to take down Fox. Now, the only difference is unfair left-wing bias, instead of unfair right-wing bias.

Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow may not be as loud or fear-inducing as their Fox rivals, but they still inhibit a sense of self-importance that weakens their legitimate points. I have no problem with opinions, but why does news have to take the backseat?

Finally, there’s CNN, “the most trusted name in news,” but it’s only earned that title by default. Yes, even the pioneers of cable news are guilty of the same gimmicks as Fox and MSNBC.

I don’t mind the graphics or the increased viewer interactivity, but I am concerned about its gradual move to self- righteous commentators. (Think about it: When was the last time you saw “Headline News” report headline news?)

Recently, CNN hired Erick Erikson of as a contributor because of his reputation as “an agenda-setter whose words are closely watched in Washington,” according to CNN’s website. I understand CNN wants diversity, but do we really need more one-sided “reporters”?

I don’t know what’s worse: the fact these channels rely too heavily on such tactics or that people may actually prefer biased viewpoints over factual reporting.

We’re living in a time where everybody is divided on major issues. We don’t need more commentators to fuel these flames. The world needs news presented in a manner where people can understand the facts and form their opinions based on that.

Contact Nick Sestanovich at [email protected]

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About the Contributor
Nick Sestanovich, Staff member
Staff member and editor.

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News and opinion lines blurred on screen