“Everyone has their own version of the truth.” So begins one of the promotional spots in the series directed by filmmaker Spike Lee for the “Lean Forward” campaign for MSNBC. The spots feature a montage of images, sound and narration — one for each of the network’s primetime hosts: Chris Matthews, Lawrence O’Donnell, Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz, the crew from Morning Joe with Joe Scarborough — and some that are purely message-driven, including, “Declaration of Forward” which claims “our best days are still ahead” and “Hardwired” which claims “we were built to evolve.”
Once upon a time the news was “who, what, when, where, and why”. Anchors and reporters covered the stories by reporting the facts. But somewhere along the way, someone realized that when you play a little music, add a point of view, show certain images, you get more than just the facts — you get a narrative, a story — you get an experience.
Now news is an art form, and the currency is persuasion. Convince people of something and many more will follow. The question isn’t whether this is a good thing, or a bad thing — the question to ask is, what are we using this power of persuasion for? The MSNBC campaign puts it this way:
News has become the conversation of our culture. What is your news saying?