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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 is seen as being "independent" and "of the 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 No Real Life Examples, Please!.


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    Films — Live-Action 
  • The movie adaptation of The Right Stuff has scenes of reporters underscored by an insectile buzzing to compare them to locusts.

  • A major theme in The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum is how the newspaper's thirst for sensationalism and lack of ethical standards ruins innocent people's lives. In the case of the title character, she is painted as a rabid communist sympathizer and a fervent accomplice of accused criminal Ludwig Götten based purely on circumstantial evidence, resulting in many of her former friends and co-workers turning against her.
  • The various Honor Harrington books have a dim view of journalists, or "newsies" as they're called. They are at best annoyances to the protagonists, when they're obnoxiously hounding them in chase of scoops or scandals, at worst easily duped mouthpieces for propaganda. The one time we're introduced to a journalist with an impecable record of honesty, integrity and good research, she is quickly revealed to be The Mole for the Big Bad, building up her good track record for decades just so she could spread misinformation when the Big Bad really needed it to be taken seriously. The plethora of evil people ruthlessly abusing their vast economic and political power in this story are never stopped or exposed by these "newsies", instead relying on an NRA approach of only being stopped by good (i.e., Honor and her allies) people ruthlessly abusing their vast economic and political power.

    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.


    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 wholly under his control... a fact that frustrates him mightily.

    Video Games 
  • A theme used in Persona 4. A television phenomenon 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?
  • In Leftover Soup, Jamie is smeared by the local paper after defending himself from a mugger. The paper hides behind Weasel Words in order to slander him up and down and keep it legal, embracing the old adage "never let the facts get in the way of a good story." The only saving grace is that they report his name as "Benjamin Hanniganiv."

    Western Animation