Cable News vs. the Internet

What we talked about on the previous page is what happens when cable news stations start snapping at each others' jugulars. But with today's technology, the fight has gotten even fiercer.

Along came the Internet. The same news junkies who used to turn to 24-hour cable news to get by-the-minute updates have now defected to the Internet for second-by-second news. You can get exactly the news you're looking for faster online. So why watch cable news?

The answer is opinion. You can get the "what" much faster online, but it's trickier to get the "how" and the "why," plus that fun commentary on what you should think and what you should do about it. So 24-hour cable news necessarily started borrowing the tricks of 24-hour talk radio. It became not only sensationalized but also opinionated.

Sensational opinions are polarizing. Does cable news make you shout hallelujah or opposite, less church-worthy exclamations? No longer is there much room in the middle. No matter your political affiliations, you're sure to find an opinion you agree with and one that makes you cringe. Due in no small part to cable news, the distance between right and left in American culture has grown. And the factions are mad.

Interestingly, this culture of opinionated journalism that now provides the backbone of a cable news station's ratings may also prove to be their downfall. Walter Cronkite was "the most trusted man in America" and was therefore the face of the news. But can any one of the many current cable anchors make the same claim to trustworthiness?

To learn more about how TV has affected society, check out the links on the next page.