Narratives define television news media. Often, these narratives can have profound effects on the attitudes, beliefs, and social behavior of viewers. This paper explores some of those effects, examining how television news narratives divide and isolate societal groups through stereotyping, violence normalization, desensitization, and an overemphasis on partisan political conflict and drama. Two alternative television news models are presented as opportunities for increasing media literacy, critical thinking, and civic engagement: the Public Health model and an “Infotainment” model, based on the phenomenal success of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. The author concludes by suggesting that rising populist anger and skepticism against the mainstream media can be positively leveraged to pressure corporate powers into offering higher quality journalistic programming.
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