The Positive and Negative Effects of 24-Hour News Networks on American Viewers Essay

The Positive and Negative Effects of 24-Hour News Networks on American Viewers

America was introduced to the twenty-four hour news network when Ted Turner founded Cable News Network, or CNN, in 1980 (Ted Turner Biography, 2013) - The Positive and Negative Effects of 24-Hour News Networks on American Viewers Essay introduction. Surely, the news networks of today are not what Ted Turner had in mind when he came up with the idea thirty-two years ago. Every ten minutes, a breaking news story replaces another breaking news story that we have already forgotten about – let alone even cared about. There are three major news channels: Microsoft and the National Broadcasting Company (MSNBC), Fox News Channel (FNC), and CNN. There is a news correspondent for every viewer – from liberal Keith Olbermann; to conservative Bill O’Reilly. For a while, even the far-right evangelicals had Glenn Beck. Whether you love them or hate them, today’s twenty-four hour news networks are here to stay – positively and negatively affecting Americans everyday.

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Twenty-four hour news networks provide viewers with mostly accurate information, so that Americans can stay current on the happenings of the world. CNN, MSNBC, and FNC allow viewers to instantly turn on the television at any time of the day or night and discover news events that are occurring at that very moment. We no longer have to wait for the local five o’clock news to come on – we can now get the news as it happens. Newspapers are no longer the primary source of information for the majority of Americans, as the information contained inside the newspaper are dated, compared to the instantaneous information provided through the major news networks. Instead, newspapers are now used as a source of commentary, allowing writers to report on the news and share their opinions on a particular news event. If the horrible shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School happened over 30 years ago, the majority of people would not have learned about the school shooting until the next day. But, with all of the technology available and twenty-four news networks hard at work, we knew about the school shooting minutes after it happened, if not while some of the violence was still taking place.

Another example is the coverage of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Within minutes of the first plane crash into the Twin Towers, our televisions streamed news coverage which unfolded the events of the terrorist attacks at real time. Watching news events unfold on television can be amazing, if the news networks report on the events in an honest manner. Ever since my military experience during the war in Afghanistan, I remain weary of censored news. When the U.S. Army stationed me in Qatar during the early 2000’s, I noticed that news networks did not report fully on the happenings of the war. Networks broadcasted only bits and pieces of news stories that they felt were good for Americans to watch. Of course, these bit and pieces of news stories were designed to make the U.S. government shine favorably amongst viewers.

Besides the benefit of providing viewers instant access to the latest news, the twenty-four hour news networks also have several cons. The most significant problem with the 24-hour news network is the death of journalism. In a hurry to break the latest news first, the writers and reporters for the news networks occasionally skip the fact checking process, and therefore jeopardize the accuracy of the news being reported. Caught in the moment, reporters quickly jump to conclusions, sharing with viewers what they think could have happened instead of waiting a few more minutes for the facts to unfold. In their race to break the news, networks give the impression that it does not matter if their words ruin someone’s life or misinform the public – it only matters that they said it first. Each 24-hour news network has a team of anchors who seem to be pursuing an obvious political agenda. Pundits are given an excessive amount of air time to give their opinions and call it news. Guests are brought onto a news program so that the host can yell at them for not having the same views. Then, news anchors make crazy statements on-air and their sound bites are replayed all day on the network.

Other so-called journalists argue the validity of the sound bites, and continue to shout out rhetoric on their own news programs. CNN aims to put on a show for their viewers with their use of the Multi-Touch Collaboration Wall and hologram technology, which must have cost a fortune. I can recall how ridiculous it was to watch a hologram image of the rapper, Will-I-Am, being “beamed” into the CNN studios to share his excitement about Election Day in 2008. CNN’s over-use of technology and the loud, biased arguments of news anchors from the other major networks distract viewers from what really matters – keeping people informed through a straight-forward report of daily news events.

However, the 24-hour news networks are not totally at fault for the negative aspects of their organizations. America, as a whole, has a short attention span. The networks must always have the next big story to keep viewers tuned-in. A few news stories that are chosen to be reported on are important. But, most of the time, the topics that are reported on are a huge waste of everyone’s time. According to, the Iraq War has been going on for ten years, cost the American people over six trillion dollars, almost 4,500 soldiers dead, and over 32,000 soldiers have been wounded in action (Casualties in Iraq, 2013). Not to mention, there are a vast number of stories about people who die each day because they lack health insurance. These newsworthy topics do not currently receive much airtime on major news networks. However, if there is a celebrity death or a Hollywood break-up, then we shamefully get non-stop coverage of that news for a week. I hope that one day we can get real journalists back on television – journalists that do not yell and tell us what he or she feels about the story. We need journalists who will report factual information on meaningful news topics and leave it at that.

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