This week’s JZS Newsletter features:

i) We Can Stop This Trump-Cable News Circus
From Forbes, By John Zogby

ii) Trump Report Card: What matters, Harsh Tweets Or Serious Policy?
From the Washington Examiner, By John Zogby


i) We Can Stop This Trump-Cable News Circus

From Forbes

American history is the story of cycles of conflict and consensus, hyperbole and statesmanship. There is nothing extraordinary about the noise and violent rhetoric we are experiencing today, except that technologies magnify it, moves it past the speed of sound, and enables millions of us to participate in it. Even partisan news media is a part of our past. The presence of a vulgar President who has branded breaking all the rules is somewhat new – but Andrew Jackson, Harry Truman, and two Johnsons in the White House were often salty and brash.

What is really new is that 24 hour cable television and talk radio egg this nastiness on. And I find this hard to understand because neither of them is growing in overall public support. In fact, viewership and listenership ratings are down – if you can believe the ratings anyway. I know a bit about sampling and I am especially amazed at those of cable news. If there are 118.4 million households in the United States – and most people are either not watching anything or are actually viewing something else – how can media executives tout ratings increases? The margin of sampling error for a Nielsen survey per show is an average 10-21 percentage points, meaning that many of these ratings numbers cannot possibly be statistically significant for prime time and downright meaningless when we drill down to cable television. Thus if Nielsen claims that 400,000 watched Hardball last week but this week it is down to 352,000, how can a sample with such a high margin of error produce percentages with such granularity? Those numbers are actually meaningless.

At the same time, the media are obsessed with ratings points. Some shows are up, others are down. But by how much? What is even worse is that television news, particularly cable news, has decided to engage with President Trump, and some shows make bogus claims that their ratings are rising. But most people are simply not watching.

There are ways to stop this craziness. And it begins with all of us.

  1. Just Stop Watching – we are already doing a pretty good job of that apparently, but to those who remain, you need to ask yourself some serious questions? Are you getting anything out of the constant repetition? Do you really enjoy panels talking about nothing? Do you really need to hear what you already firmly believe over and over and over?
  2. Demand Consensus, Not Conflict – okay, we get it. Congress lacks camaraderie and cooperation, but a lot of good will still exists. Let’s just say that consensus and working together are now officially the “man bites dog” stories and demand to see more of that. This is the real news. Conflict and hate are so 2016. Some bills do get passed. Lots of regulations do work. Some tax money is actually wisely spent. Stories of local councilpersons and state legislators combining forces can be fascinating. That is important stuff.
  3. Appeal to Millennials and Gen Z – do media executives really understand why fewer young people voted and are watching television news? A lot of it has to do with mobile sources of news, but much of it has to do with a lack of patience with the absence of problem-solving and genuine discussion. The political parties clearly do not get it. Why follow their lead? I am well aware of the Instagram/Twitter Generation. But that is recreation. These cohorts are also global, entrepreneurial, hopeful, and engaged. They will watch and listen to positive things happening. Providing a path to answers, consensus, and engagement is empowering.
  4. Spread More Stories About Real People – there are many ways in daily life where people join together to rebuild, help, make a difference, sponsor and help the forgotten, band together to demand a traffic light, adopt children, raise money for causes and charities. More time is spent covering these snippets of reality than ever before. We just need more of them to drown out the ugly noise.
  5. Find Commonalities, Appreciate Differences – I have now spent almost nine years studying America’s Neo-Tribes based on groups with shared attributes, values and interests. Yet what fascinates me most about them is that how they crossover with other tribes that seem so different. There is always a way to find where people may agree or wish to, instead of always highlighting conflicts over differences. It is up to us to tell these stories and be respectful of others. Let’s avoid pigeon-holing (“white working class”, “ordinary Americans”) and talk about fellow “aspiring Americans”, “humans”, “our neighbors”. We all have the responsibility to change the nature of our discourse so that it can filter up.

We are basically talking about a change in our political culture. We have no right to demand that of our political leaders until we do it ourselves. Traditional and social media can help us in the process.


Coming Soon: Who’s Your Tribe? The only app you’ll need to discover your Neo-Tribe.


ii) Trump Report Card: What matters, Harsh Tweets Or Serious Policy?

From the Washington Examiner

I try to be fair. I hope I really don’t have to even explain my grade this week. A health care bill that very few Americans support cannot even win a majority of the GOP in the Senate and a vote had to be postponed. I am not sure what kind money will be spent to buy how many holdout senators but that is for next week.

The much touted $110 billion Saudi arms deal that was supposed to create tens of thousands of jobs has been exposed as hype and the president hit a new low with his tweeting — something I don’t want to even address.

Grade: F (because there is nothing lower)

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