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When a business or industry raises its voice to a fever pitch, you know it is in trouble.

Old-timers in the theater say You can tell when an actor feels that he is losing his audience; thats when he raises his voice. And that is what is happening with BIG NEWS. This corner of the media business is in trouble, and it is in desperate need of a new format.

The rapid expansion in recent years of additional channels of communication and easily accessible data has put the news business on serious overload. Competition is so great to fill vast amounts of air time and print space that much of todays news is now being presented more as entertainment than straight, unbiased information. And, strangely enough, the news intelligentsia thinks we want it that way.

The dramatic background music and bated breath of a TV news commentator covering a major catastrophe sickens viewers. Well-coiffed news anchors leave their studios and carefully stage themselves in front of disasters to convey an image that they are more with it and sincere than competing news personalities.

The BIG NEWS appetite has become so great that subjects which previously deserved little or no attention are being expanded into lengthy and often boring time- and space-fillers disguised as news in depth or background information. The media seems to be most interested in covering news which is violent, titillating, dramatic, shocking, superficially entertaining, socially controversial or politically incorrect. Yellow journalism has become common, and political bias has jumped from the editorial page to the front page, presented unabashedly as news. Has the industry forgotten the old New York Times ideal of only reporting All The News That Is Fit to Print?

Some network reporters are covering breaking news with preconceived opinions which they try to prove in on-the-scene interviews – not always successfully, to their chagrin. How many times have we seen the camera go quickly to the next interviewee when the desired answer isnt forthcoming?

It is incredible that news personalities interview other news personalities and present their opinions to the public as news. News anchors search diligently for experts, some unqualified, who will back up their own opinions. It is always possible to find such an expert somewhere – but is this a legitimate presentation of news?

Newspaper and TV reporters have admitted that they have made up stories or jumped to unsubstantiated conclusions to express their own personal bias and to satisfy the ever-increasing demand for attention-getting news.

Is it any wonder that reading newspapers and watching TV for news, especially among younger people, is declining? Now there are other ways to find out what is going on in the world. The dramatic growth of the Internet, with its dedicated bloggers, and instantaneous wireless messaging is quickly bypassing the established news bureaucracies.

We wonder if BIG NEWS even realizes that it is in trouble? There is a limit, after all, to how high it can raise its voice before it loses its audience. Is the current news industry obsolete, or will it eventually find a format which will help stem the loss of its customers? No one knows for sure, but the next few years should be interesting.

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