How we shot ourselves in the foot

In this excerpt from the Coz Green Audio Experience Podcast, Coz Green interviews Peter Montoya about his latest book. They discuss how the influence and reputation of the media has changed over the past decades and how foreign media differs from our own.

Remember the days like you even talked about Peter Jennings and Walter Cronkite?

 

Walter Cronkite actually within. Like a poll back in his day was seen as the most trusted man in America, right? Right. So things have changed

 

By the way, the day he came out and talked badly about the Vietnam War was the day the Vietnam War basically ended, when that when he said those words. That’s how much credibility he had.

 

And he went from news to all of a sudden now he shared an opinion because that opinion about the war, that was not objective. Right. Because he picked a side when he said that. And then the Dan Rather’s and all of them started to share some opinions and it started to be less.

 

We don’t we don’t have journalism today. What we have seen in the last few years is actually the death of journalism.

 

Yeah. In large part it’s not.

 

What was? All The President’s Men. Right? Where they actually, you know, did some investigative. We don’t see that anymore. News is not the same. So how do we distinguish then between this news and opinions?

 

Because it’s hard to find news.

 

So let’s talk about that for a second. And you mentioned earlier talking about what we largely see now is people on television just yelling at one another. So when you look at the large global news operations, like CNN, like Fox News, like MSNBC, those global news networks are incredibly expensive, is incredibly expensive to have bureaus and satellite

 

and editors and producers and investigative reporters. And those huge cable news networks were built for global sized stories. The first and second Persian Gulf wars, 9/11. It was built for those sized stories. So when you have a story that big, that’s when you need to have, a network of that size.

 

All the people around the world, all of the resources, all the cameramen and equipment and satellites and expertise. But then the rest of the time, we actually can’t support it. So what is the most cost effective way to run a network?

 

Is it exactly? You said earlier. Let’s get two people or four people of different opinions, get them on screen and get them shouting at one another. And that is relatively expensive. There’s very few reporters. There’s a couple of bookers and a couple of cameramen, and it’s really fairly cheap.

 

And so that’s why these cable knew that news networks do what they do well.

 

And you and I are doing it right now. It’s become a world of talking heads. And we even saw more of that during Covid, where this format, you and I talking, regardless of where we are in the world, this is now tolerated.

 

Right. This kind of technology is actually tolerated where two talking heads I don’t even need a satellite anymore. He needs an Internet connection. And you and I create content this easy, and that’s a good thing. But that can also be a bad thing depending on how it’s used.

 

So high quality content is expensive. I mean, the thousand hours I spent into researching and writing my book to have an informed, I hope educated opinion about what’s happening took a lot of time to get me to this place where I actually understand it.

 

So good conversation is really worthwhile. And to your earlier question, cause about where to find the best news, the best news is boring. That is the only news worth consuming. And so for an exercise, find a BBC one or two, go on your cable and look for it over, the ones they actually report in England.

 

And when you watch one of their news stories, you’ll find it has a completely different pacing. You’ll find that they put on their big news story at the beginning of the hour. And about three and a half minutes into it, you will feel this kind of anxiety like you’re going OK next story.

 

You kind of notice yourself feeling a little uneasy because they go into the second act of the first story and they will spend not three and a half minutes, as the lead story does here in America oftentimes does.

 

They’ll spend seven, 10 or maybe even 17 minutes on their opening story of a one hour newscast. So they’ll say what happened. Here’s the facts. Then they’ll bring on the first set of experts. And the second set of experts talk about things in a calm, deliberative way, whether interrogating the issue, and they’re not trying to

 

score political points. And when you watch that, you’ll go, this feels weird to me. It’s almost boring. I want to change the channel. That gives you an indication I haven’t seen in a while. By the way, you might maybe they become more sensationalized.

 

I can’t speak to that. That was the last time I watched it. It felt weird and boring to me.

 

If you are more committed to national unity than partisanship, please check out my book, The Second Civil War: A Citizen’s Guide to Healing Our Fractured Nation. My book will challenge you to improve your relationships with friends and family.

 

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