The Hutch Report

Breaking News – “The news isn’t really breaking!”

By | Media

There is a furious battle going on these days. That battle is for your attention. The media is fighting to attract and retain your attention every minute of the day, regardless of where you are or what you are doing. Their goal is to disrupt your focus, stop what you are doing and pay attention to what they have to say. It takes you away from doing important work. It takes you away from engaging in an interesting conversation with a friend, but most importantly it uses up a commodity that you can’t get back, your time. Consciously or unconsciously you are fighting to not be sucked in by all the props and attention grabbing tricks the media uses to reel you in. 

At one time, while watching TV, a station would interrupt programming to provide a special news bulletin. It may have been an exceptional event such as planes hitting the World Trade Center Towers, or the 6.9 magnitude San Francisco earthquake of 1989, or the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami that hit Indonesia. These were events that required your attention for any number of reasons, one being, knowing a loved one that may have been directly affected by the event allowing you to reach out to them in a timely manner. 

However, now days you may have realised that there is an incredible amount of “Breaking News.” The news is often hours old, has been on loop or just an insignificant tidbit to many who are watching. The “Breaking News” banner hits the screen with a swash of colour accompanied by dramatic music, and bang, your reaction is always the same, “What happened that I need to know about?” 

Focus group research shows that generally, the station or network that is considered the best at covering breaking news can expect to be number one in the Nielsen ratings. So, rather than devoting their efforts to deep reporting, in an effort to uncover the truth, these networks have opted for the easy way out. They take one story and beat it to death on loop over a 24 hour period in order to keep you engaged and entertained. 

The payoff to the media is additional ad revenue. The loser; however, is you, the viewer. Just ask yourself how many important breaking news stories happened over the past week that you most likely spent everyday all week reading or hearing about. By spending 10 minutes on one well written article, you would have learned all you needed or wanted to learn about the event.

It is not 24 hour news anymore, it is 10 seconds of news and 23 hours 59 minutes and 50 seconds of opinion. The truth is, there is actually a financial benefit to investigations, but it is a longer-term investment. Readers appreciate when their newspapers ask tough questions in a fight to uncover the truth. They like corruption to be exposed, abuse of power to be challenged, and serious scandals to be unearthed. It reminds them what journalism is for. They admire it. They are even willing to pay for it.

Unfortunately, as long as people keep getting sucked into the attention traps that the media creates, journalism is not coming back. So how can you fight against it? There are some simple changes you can make. 

  • Pick one or two “reputable sources” of news
  • Choose a few minutes at the end of the day to review it
  • Ask yourself, “Is this news or is this opinion?” If it is opinion turn it off (unless of course it is an individual’s opinion that you value highly). 

That’s it, there is nothing more to do. I can guarantee by making these slight changes in your viewing habits that you will be no less wiser about what is going on, but will have gained a large chunk of time to make better use of, and you will also find that you feel less anxious about the world. 

The Hutch Report

Trump News Network – The Master Plan

By | Media, Politics

The 2016 presidential campaign of Donald Trump was formally launched on June 16, 2015, at Trump Tower in New York City. However, some wonder if becoming president was Trump’s main goal all along. There have been a number of clues that have surfaced over the years that could lead us to believe that what Trump really was planning was to start his own international news network to rival that of CNN and others. Then something unexpected happened, he actually won. 

Although this has all the hallmarks of classic conspiracy theory, when Donald Trump is involved, we have come to learn that anything is possible so we decided to look into it a bit deeper. 

Reports surfaced throughout the 2016 election that Trump was reportedly considering overseeing the creation of a new news network if he had not won the election, that would focus on conservative perspectives and voices on current events. 

Back in August of 2016, The New York Times initially reported that Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner had explored the possibility of either creating a media property or acquiring one, according to a person briefed on the discussions, who asked for anonymity to discuss private conversations.

The Financial Times then reported in October 2016 that Kushner had discussed the possibility of a Trump-branded television network with Aryeh B. Bourkoff, the chief executive of LionTree, a boutique investment bank that had helped advise media deals.

NBC news wrote in October of 2016, “The Donald Trump TV Network Could Be Just Three Months Away.”

Trump has been attacking CNN in particular since the beginning, claiming the network’s international operations represent the United States poorly. He tweeted most recently back in November 2018, “While CNN doesn’t do great in the United States based on ratings, outside of the U.S. they have very little competition,” “Throughout the world, CNN has a powerful voice portraying the United States in an unfair and false way.”

“Something has to be done,” he added, “including the possibility of the United States starting our own Worldwide Network to show the World the way we really are, GREAT!”

Trump has certainly not hidden his feelings about which networks he admires and those he despises. If Trump did launch his own network, “You could easily see Sean Hannity defecting from Fox News,” said NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik. 

It should therefore not be surprising that just yesterday, in a new piece for the New Yorker, investigative journalist Jane Mayer reported that a few months before the Justice Department filed its lawsuit, Trump pressured Gary Cohn, the former director of the National Economic Council, to tell the Justice Department to block AT&T’s Time Warner deal (Time Warner being CNN’s parent company).

Dr. Pippa Malmgren, who has previously served as Special Assistant to the President of the United States, George W Bush, for Economic Policy on the National Economic Council recently spoke on the Macrovoices Podcast and expressed the idea that Donald Trump never expected to win. He ran for President to pursue an ulterior motive. She went on to say, that a news network would provide Trump with “less constraints and freedom to tweet anything he wants.” Creating the Trump News Network (TNN) would help Trump transition into a global brand and enable him to have “more influence” than he has as president. She believes that for this reason, “Trump will decide not to run again,” instead, he will launch TNN and that he will wait just weeks before the election to announce this and thereby completely disrupt the whole process. The net result would drive massive attention to his cause.

Conspiracy theory? Maybe, but we will have to wait for the elections to see how this one turns out.  

The Hutch Report

Welcome to the Jungle

By | Law, Media, Politics

Music is a powerful force in life. Not only is it a dominant art form, a form of entertainment that goes back to the beginnings of human history, it has also been used as a form of communication. The reason it is so effective as a communication tool is because it drives emotions and it is emotions that play a large part in our decision making process. 

Wherever you encounter a form of sales or commercialism of a product you are bound to find some kind of catchy music attached. There is a long history of branding campaigns that have become successful mainly because of the emotion and message communicated through the music. 

We make decisions everyday but some decisions have a greater impact than others. One of the most powerful decisions you make as a citizen is your power to vote. For this reason music has been an integral part of political campaigns and elections for years. The problem is that quite often the politicians prefer to choose music that conveys their message by just using popular music that has already created an impact in order to play it safe. The music is more often than not used without the consent or knowledge of the copyright holder. When they do this they ironically disregard copyright law (a law they are supposed to be upholding).

The true artist creates for the sake of creation. The work is the focal point. This is why whenever you find a piece of music or artistic expression used for any other purpose other than that for what it was conceived, a work of art, the artist becomes incensed. The artist knows that there is a danger that the use of their work for commercial purposes can forever change the association of that music with the listening public. 

Rihanna recently sent a cease-and-desist letter to Donald Trump, with the Anti singer deploying legal action after her “Don’t Stop the Music” was played at the president’s rally Sunday in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Trump is also experiencing a backlash from the likes of Axel Rose for his use of Sweet Child o’ Mine. Over the weekend, the controversial Guns N’ Roses frontman complained on Twitter that Trump had used the hit against the band’s wishes. He explained that a legal loophole allowed the president, whose administration he referred to as “s***bags,” to do it.

This is not isolated to the midterm elections or the Trump campaigns. The unlawful use of the popular song goes back much further. 

When Independent billionaire Ross Perot ran in 1992 in a three way race against Bill Clinton and George H. Bush. He was one of the most unconventional presidential candidates in American political history, so his choice of campaign song was Patsy Cline’s 1961 love song “Crazy.” It attracted attention because his critics dismissed him as such.

During his successful 2000 presidential campaign, George W. Bush picked Tom Petty’s 1989 hit “I Won’t Back Down,” to be played during his events.  Petty threatened to sue the campaign for its unauthorised use of the tune, and Bush stopped playing it.

When Sarah Palin ran as John McCain’s 2008 Republican presidential running mate she chose to play Heart’s 1970s hit “Barracuda” at campaign events. The band objected to the use of the song and got the campaign to stop playing it.  Ann and Nancy Wilson didn’t want the song to be associated with the views of Sarah Palin. During the same campaign, Jackson Browne won a suit against John McCain when the Republican presidential candidate played “Running on Empty” in an ad bashing Barack Obama on gas conservation.

Ex-Talking Head frontman David Byrne successfully sued Florida Republican Charlie Crist for using “Road to Nowhere” in a video to attack opponent Marco Rubio during a 2010 U.S. Senate campaign.

Of course, the opposite effect can happen. Mick Fleetwood, from the group Fleetwood Mac, recently said Bill Clinton’s campaign never requested permission for what became his iconic 1992 campaign anthem, “Don’t Stop,” but the band generally voted Democratic and didn’t object to the exposure. 

Legally speaking, copyright laws allow political candidates to use just about any song they want, as long as they’re played at a stadium, arena or other venue that already has a public-performance license through a songwriters’ association such as ASCAP or BMI. However, the law contains plenty of gray area and the artist does have the ability to protect their “right of publicity.” 

The Hutch Report

“Extremely Dangerous to Our Democracy”

By | Media, Politics

Another day, another day of mud slinging. The media is after Trump and Trump is after the media. Trump cries fake news on one hand, yet on the other he produces fake news. It doesn’t take much digging to discover the number of false or misleading statements he has made. The Washinton Post did a count of these statements throughout his first 100 days. However, this is not an attack on Trump, it is simply the process of making the sitting President accountable for his words and actions and has been done throughout the years with all administrations. When the voting public catches the President with his pants down (in reference to Nixon, not Clinton!) he is called to answer, which Nixon was and forced to resign. 

One of the problems we face today regarding the news is the facility of its distribution, especially in this era of social media. It is simple to write, simple to publish, simple to distribute and very cheap to do. This has pulled everybody who is anybody with an opinion into the news game. We looked into propaganda side of this during the Russia accusations.

At one time, the American population would get home from work to watch the Six O’Clock newscast. You would get your news for the day, which was a mix of mainly local news with a portion for national and international stories. That was it and that was enough. If you wanted something lighter or deeper and more informed there was a selection of magazines and newspapers. 

The big change came with news all day, all the time. What were once headlines with an overview to give the public a general idea have become stories with a team to analyze every word and every angle. CNN was the first but should not be considered the only one. All of these all day news networks are bombarding the public with the same headlines all day long. They put together round tables to beat the crap out of a story. They parse every word in hopes of making some discovery that may drive their ratings a little higher. The constant barrage of news and information also has additional detriments to our well being, as we posted here. 

To make matters worse, what used to be independent local news stations were eventually bought up one by one by conglomerates. For example, The Sinclair Broadcast Group is the largest owner of television stations in the United States, currently owning or operating a total of 193 outlets across the country in nearly 80 markets, ranging from markets as large as Washington, D.C. to as small as Steubenville, Ohio. The stations are affiliates of various television networks, including ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox as well as numerous specialty channels. Many stations are owned outright by the company, while others are owned by legally distinct companies but operated by Sinclair through a local marketing agreement. The Fox Broadcasting Company operates an American television network made up of 17 owned-and-operated stations and over 185 affiliates. Sinclair’s aggregate televised reach covers about 40 percent of the U.S.

Unfortunately, with this kind of power and control some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control exactly what people think. How do we know? The nightly newscasts of all these affiliates are scripted. They are all told what to read each and every day, regardless of where they are located. 

A video compilation was published earlier this year on YouTube  that presents this idea perfectly. It shows dozens of news anchors at local affiliate stations owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group reciting word-for-word the exact same message on “fake” news. The video shows CBS, ABC, NBC, and Fox affiliates sharing the message.

This is, as the anchors in the video clearly outline, ”Extremely dangerous to our democracy.” However, that it is up to each individual to decide.