How to Influence Mass Media
This is how it works: advertisers buy timeslots, to place their ads. TV Channels sell their timeslots in packages - ie. 'platinum' , 'bronze' etc. with varying ad placement options.
Ideally, an advertiser would give free reign to the news channel editor and we would see unbiased reporting interspersed with commercials of a certain character and quality. However, advertisers are given - now by web page - an advance schedule of the TV shows and reports that are going to be run alongside their content.
Large Advertisers such as the drug companies who are now producing more ads for drugs than ever before - and who rely on the current status quo to keep selling higher and higher priced drugs driven by consumer demand (ever wonder why drugstores proliferate out of control in your neighborhood, or why there is one on almost every corner?) - can communicate in advance, through their 'ad placement company' a certain fluidity to their advertising schedule. They can also through the same 'ad placement company' - pull their advertisements altogether.
And so editors generally are influenced to make decisions that affect show content. They make content decisions based on the viability of advertising. If , for example, they are going to run a piece about how well received a national health service would be - they have to decide whether or not the lost advertising revenue is worth it despite the fact that such a concept enjoys the support of 72 percent of the American people.
Its important to remember this as we see coverage on news media entertainment channels - there is a book out now called 'denialism' (first reference link) that discusses the institutionalisation of all of this, from concepts relating to politics, global warming, and even aids. Although he doesn't make the link between the editor, the advertiser, and the news content in place for that particular TV channel - it is an important element of how the mass media is influenced to be counter to the national will - but flexible to corporate will.
News from the blogosphere has no such constraint. If you wish to know about healthcare reform, for example, you can read the entire bill at your leisure, as if you were a member of the house of representatives . And of course search it as well.
And that is why, its not such a good idea to keep a TV news channel running all the time. You are not being informed, you are being entertained. Which, on New Years Eve - is not such a bad thing. Mazeltov!