American vs. British media
CHRISTOPHER MCBRIARTY — Special to Southern News
The news media here in the United States is vastly different from the one I’m used to in the United Kingdom. Before I came here for my year of studying abroad at Southern, I didn’t have a good opinion of the news media at all: biased, corrupt and full of subjective news organizations. Naturally, coming from Great Britain, I love the BBC. I like to believe it’s full of objective reporting and isn’t influenced by a political party divide. But by being here, I’ve thought, maybe I see the BBC in a similar way as a MSNBC or Fox News viewer sees their reporting as objective.
It’s often very easy to look from the outside and criticize, but living within and experiencing it firsthand has made me go back and re-evaluate some of my previous conceptions of the United States media.
My view of TV news in America has undergone the biggest overhaul. I was never a fan of the huge chunks of opinion thrown around certain networks. Now, I actually don’t mind it too much. Granted, I don’t believe it is ideal, and I still believe you can turn on Fox or MSNBC and clearly see which way the anchor is leaning politically. But I believe the networks have gotten a very bad rep for this: like Fox News being right-wing or MSNBC being left-wing is a bad thing.
The reason there are networks like Fox and MSNBC is because of the huge variety of news networks available. Fox and MSNBC have found their models within a sea of competition and rolled with it-in the United Kingdom things work a little differently. There is much less choice and that can also be good too. We have very little opinion shows under the veil of ‘news’ like here in the United States. So the reporting we do get is truly top-class. I don’t think there is a better news source in the world than the BBC.
Newspapers on the other hand, are a whole different beast. There are all kinds of political newspapers with obvious agendas. But a lot like here in the United States, anyone who keeps half an eye on what’s happening can see the agenda being pushed by them. That said, I do enjoy the newspapers in the United Kingdom; I’m very surprised their model has not been implemented here in the United States: fewer words, more pictures and much smaller size. It improves the overall newspaper experience in my view. As much as I love reading newspapers here, I really hate the size and the jumping from one page to another to finish an article.
But TV is where the most controversy is because the agendas from networks can be seen a lot easier. Admittedly, I’ve watched shows within Fox News and MSNBC for the shock-value, and perhaps that’s what draws people in who aren’t used to that sort of ‘news’ model. But if you’ve grown up with it, it must just be normal.
It’s shocking to me because I’ve not seen a show like Bill O’Reilly’s, “The O’Reilly Factor,” for example, in the United Kingdom. But to my American peers, I imagine they are numb to those kinds of shows, and perhaps many view them as legitimate news shows. No wonder I’ve come across so many young Americans that don’t follow what’s going on around them.
I believe if there were fewer choices, and the options available were of a similar standard to those that are available in the United Kingdom, a lot more Americans would be engaged. I think half the problem is people have given up on the media before they’ve even given it a chance and that is the result of biased opinion news polluting the media. If that wasn’t there, then perhaps things would be different. But if it wasn’t there, it wouldn’t be America. And arguably, that’s what makes American media so good.