OPINION: The not-so-new age of news

GUEST COMMENTARY BY MITCH MACKAY OF EAST JORDAN

THOUGH A BIT MORE REVEALING LATELY, TV news is scripted, predictable, choreographed, dignified, responsible, truthful, and sure, fair and balanced.

Rush Limbaugh is given credit for undermining that in radio but it started long ago with broadsides, newsreels, tabloids and similar moving and stationary presentations.

With Rush though a slew of them crawled out of the woodwork like insects we didn’t know were there.

If they couldn’t find shock, they made it up.

Reality shows?  Scripted sensationalist junk.

TV and radio stations, newsprint press, magazines, are mostly reliable sources for news and views, advertising being a negligibly acceptable rich uncle but necessary for production.

All news and entertainment outlets know they have audiences to please depending on how satisfaction is perceived as worthwhile in accordance with intent of production.

Almost as soon as the United States was barely colonialized there were printed papers for dissemination.

After all, the Gutenberg Press had been around since the 1450s.

Shakespeare’s works were printed in his time.

First radio transmission came in 1906-1910-1920, hard to pin that down in such random emergence, Massachusetts and Michigan being granted that significance.

Television came along with Philo Farnsworth in 1927 though envisioned by him as a boy plowing a potato field in 1920 or thereabouts, again, hard to be specific.

It was in 1953 the first television appeared on my suburban block and we kids beat most parents to the rolling static screen of perhaps eight by ten black and white inches in a piece of furniture the size of a wood stove. 

Meanwhile offset printing and other methods were superseding the handset type worldwide for commercial production though many continued the hand method into the mid-20th century.

Rumor goes that Mark Twain dabbled in typesetting with an inventor he invested in to mostly disappointing results, that he grew bitter due to money loss but his autobiographical reminiscences say otherwise, that he enjoyed the project and had lots of money anyway.

Now there are machines for purchase installed in hubs of printing activity like college and political centers that can print and bind a book from a typeset manuscript, Zap, finished product on demand.

There are still printshops that do things the older way, big presses that are automatic but require hands-on setup and maintenance.

VALLEY GRAPHICS of East Jordan is one such example of the old way semi-automated, from the computer to the print press, an education for those fascinated, just don’t get in their way when busy, and don’t let that sleeping dog convince you it’s a lazy enterprise. 

TV stations are huge businesses, way more extensive than radio stations.

Until cable came along there were few stations involved due to cost, legal entanglements, and waveband allocation and such bother—until cable changed all that.

Like MA BELL, deregulation opened the floodgates to a whole ‘nother world.

Cable was able to tap all wavelengths at once and just as FM radio overtook AM, TV stations now number in the hundreds everywhere.

The big guys, nonetheless, rule the roost, MSNBC, CNN, FOX, and then all the showtime programming like NETFLIX, HBO and so on.

MSNBC extended its programming in this last fifteen months to maximize the Trump hullaballoo.

Having some involvement in television programming and hosting I know something of how it works.

MSNBC, for instance, pays daily and nightly news anchors wages enough to allow life in New York or most anywhere else, plus paying for guests and panelists to appear regularly.

They must provide transportation and overnight accommodations for all and some even purchase and refurbish old hotels dedicated to that purpose.

That’s why there are advertisements.

Without advertisers nobody gets paid unless via concert for musicians, comedians &c.

New York City being the ground zero of showcasing has budgets beyond the normal scope of realization. 

The press has slipped, it is true, due to internet proliferation but still vibrant if kept on a leash.

Magazines still entice us to subscription—or kleptomaniacal appropriation from doctors’ waiting rooms.

Legacy has much to do with press longevity just as with radio and television since you can find most anything via internet, though, like most products, limited by popularity as to availability.

Once upon a postwar boom-time newspapers and magazines were as powerful as General Motors, point presumably conveyed.

1st AMENDMENT Freedom of the Press?  Not in Twitter-Tweet Trumpland.

The underlying gist of all this is the equipment crew, camera operators, choreographers, backstage managers, make-up, producer, director, and of inestimable worth the Technical Director or TD.

With coordination of camera crew, chyron inserts, video clips on time, musical interludes and hundreds of fine points, the televised final is a product not of what you see but what you don’t think about.

The stars?

Hopefully charismatic, that’s SHOW-BUSINESS.

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