Since the advent of CNN in 1980, the debate over the pros and cons of the 24-hour news cycle has waged on and on. Prior to this phenomenon, Americans were accustomed to getting their news typically at the start and end of their days, through newspapers, radio and televised evening news. There was no internet, no news alerts on smartphones. Current events and breaking news was simply far less accessible than they are today, which is why, for all its flaws, the existence of a 24-hour news cycle is a net boon for the American people.
The 24-hour news cycle has created a system of synthesizing current events and news in a easily palatable, straightforward way. Over the past three decades, as lifestyles continue to grow more fast-paced and hectic, people simply desire a way to absorb the top stories of the day on their schedule. Not everybody can sit and watch the national nightly news at 6:30, but having the ability to glance at at a cable news station at various points over the course of the day allows people to gain at least a surface-level knowledge of what is happening in the world around them. Like it or not, we live in an instant-gratification society, and news is no exception.
Though networks are often criticized for mixing news with pop culture, it is this combination that draws people in and creates a more inclusive system. The biggest role that the media plays is that of an informer. The 24-hour news cycle allows for the media to cover all sorts of different stories that likely would be overlooked or sacrificed for the sake of saving time. While the debate on whether or not the news networks ought to be covering celebrity news alongside politics and global events is not without merit, the fact is that different people want different things from their news outlets. The same is true for accusations of partisan bias — for example, if you want to hear exclusively good things about Donald Trump, tune in to Fox. If you do not, simply change the channel to something else. There are so many different platforms — whether online, on television or on the radio — that there’s sure to be plenty of options for everyone.
Especially during this incredibly grueling election cycle, constant news updates can begin to take their toll and it’s up to each individual to determine how they wish to engage with them. That said, the facts are clear — newspaper values are declining as Americans embrace the concept of news by osmosis. The 24-hour news cycle keeps everyone on their toes and accountable, from the highest elected officials to the average interested citizen.
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