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Old Media Are Evil

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"You provide the pictures, I'll provide the war."
William Randolph Hearst, allegedly using yellow journalism to kickstart the Spanish-American War

In the real world, newspapers, network television stations and other bastions of old media have complicated relationships with the Internet. They have sometimes been hostile to it, while also desperately embracing it in pursuit of new revenue streams in these difficult days. The New York Times's website is one of the most popular in the world, and quite a lot of commentators have Twitter feeds.

But this relationship is sometimes too complicated for a full and accurate portrayal in fiction. And thus we have the polar opposite of New Media Are Evil. Many works portray old media institutions (newspapers, radio, TV networks) as ignorant, malicious or both. The classic example of this trope is the stodgy old white guy railing against bloggers, webcomics, and anyone not under the influence of the brainwashing satellites owned by Louis Cypher, S. Atan, and Rupert Murdoch. Expect "get off my lawn"-type comments to come up rather frequently.


The reality? Most reporters, editors or other practitioners of old media are generally decent folk who do their jobs. They're no different from your typical insurance adjuster or other office mook. Because their jobs involve extensive public communication, mistakes tend to get amplified. If a reporter just broke up with a significant other and comes in bitter and angry and lets it affect his or her work, or simply makes an understandable mistake in spelling, an eagle-eyed reader will notice it. And as those mistakes are in the public eye, they can result in some innocent citizen getting burned on the front page. Media personnel usually receive extensive ethics training and take mistakes very hard. None of that makes the burned individual feel any better about getting humiliated in their local paper.


There is also a bit of an idea that older media institutions, due to being run by large centralized organizations, are prone to being taken over by corrupt and/or tyrannical governments and used as propaganda mills, while the internet still has a bit of a "rebel" feel to many people.

One of the ways authors allow certain members of old media institutions to Pet the Dog is to show them embracing the new media, especially in contrast to their less tolerant bosses and co-workers. Interestingly, this trope is actually Older Than They Think; people have been making jokes about how lame books are for a long time.

Meta note: a lot of Tropers have a lot of problems with old media figures, and often for good reason. That said, there are numerous pages on this Wiki devoted to chronicling the foibles of newspapers, TV, radio, etc. See: Cowboy BeBop at His Computer, New Media Are Evil, The New Rock & Roll, among others. So please avoid placing any kind of "Truth in Television" examples on this page.

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  • Citizen Kane is one of the earliest criticisms of Old Media in the form that it exists today. Note that Kane himself is a thinly veiled version of William Randolph Hearst — the spiritual godfather of Ted Turner and Rupert Murdoch. Keep in mind that Welles did slip in some delicious multi-level irony with the quote, "Don't believe everything you hear on the radio!"
  • The Ring uses this heavily. An old videotape spreads an unending curse. Bonus points go to the Western Film version, which discuss it.
    What is it with you reporters? You take one person's tragedy and force the world to experience it. You spread it like a sickness.
  • The villain of Tomorrow Never Dies is a poorly disguised version of Robert Maxwell, evident at the end when M says they'll make his death look like he committed suicide on his yacht, which is how Maxwell may have died (he either killed himself or had an accident, but he allegedly- and with some evidence- may have been killed by foreign intelligence agents- Mossad in this case-, just as Carver is killed by James Bond). Carver is worse than any of them, of course, since he brings the world to the brink of war for ratings and has numerous people- including his own wife- tortured and killed, par the course for a Bond villain.
  • RoboCop, the first movie at least, has several fake advertisements, among them various house hold products and a board game consisting of war up to and including thermonuclear (with realistic special effects build in). The way the advertisements are done border on outright brainwashing.
  • Meet John Doe has the cynical character that is newspaper owner D.B. Norton, who's only interested in political power. He even turns his newspaper against the man he'd previously supported in the middle of a political rally indicating he'd had plans for if his patsy went off-script.

    Live Action TV 

  • iCarly did an episode where the kids' webshow is bought up by a network — and Executive Meddling quickly turns it into something completely different (and much more childish).
  • A Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode has a zealous computer student snarling "The printed page is obsolete!" — Giles recoils as if startled by an odd bug. Computer teacher Ms. Calendar seems little better as she accuses Giles of wanting knowledge kept "in some depository where only a handful of white guys can get at it!"
  • The Eldritch Abomination from the first serial of Sapphire and Steel derives power from old nursery rhymes, posessing a children's book at one point.


  • "Where the Wild Wind Blows" is a song by Iron Maiden based on the graphic novel of the same name, about an elderly couple obsessed with the end of the world based on what they see on television.
  • Television: The Drug of the Nation by the Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy discusses how mass media is used to dumb down and brainwash the populace of the USA.

    Tabletop Games 

  • In the world of In Nomine, television is literally an invention of the devil, or at least of Nybaas, the Demon Prince of The Media, who manipulates print and broadcast (especially broadcast) to make or destroy trends and personalities at will. However, while Nybbas has a presence on the Internet, it's not truly under his control to the same degree ... a fact that frustrates him mightily.

    Video Games 

  • A theme used in Persona 4. A television called The Midnight Channel leads to a series of murders which the heroes must solve. The idea that television is bad when it comes to gossip, predatory journalism and spreading rumors is discussed by several Non Player Characters and major characters.
  • In Trenched, television is invented early in World War I, by the Big Bad. Seeing the horrors in the world brought to his home, combined with how crappy the primitive programming was, drove him to insanity.
  • In Ghostbusters: The Video Game, Egon and Ray have repeatedly expressed that they wished Print Was Dead because of all the Tomes Of Eldritch Lore and ghost possessed books.
  • The Binding of Isaac uses Body Horror and Christian mythological undertones inspired from conservative Christian propaganda films and print media from The '80s.
  • DmC: Devil May Cry, a not so subtle Take That! against Fox News depicts a propaganda filled news show that demons use to control the populace.
  • Downplayed but Grand Theft Auto V really hates the movie industry if maybe not movies in general. The backstory states that one of the reasons Los Santos is suffering economically is that video games and TV have edged out the movie industry. That said, it pulls no punches in depicting a Hollywood stand-in as a support group for hypocritical morally bankrupt attention whores. While almost all the Main Characters agree that old movies were awesome, they also agree now the industry is more about the people behind the scenes than the final product.

    Web Comics 

  • While not exactly evil, An Arc in Least I Could Do involved Rayne buying a newspaper and took numerous potshots at Old Media.
    Former Newspaper Owner: I was thinking of buying a radio station.
    Rayne: Why do you hate money?

    Western Animation 


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