Prioritization is about focus. What the media considers more important, it gives more time to.
The naive assumption, that we're all basically taught from birth, is that the media focuses on what the general populace considers the most important. Things people want to hear about more, get more airtime. That's how they make the most ad money.
However the reality is that it is used to shape the minds of the populace, similar to the educational system and religious systems. It is used to set culture and influence government, in a way similar to lobbying.
The trust in news and media in general has been steadily dropping as evidenced by this graph: https://content.gallup.com/origin/gallupinc/GallupSpaces/Production/Cms/POLL/pliae47xf0ayijnaojwkng.png
This is because the news media does not represent the interests of the people, so people are rejecting it. People commonly say that the news media reports what gets it the best ratings. This is only half-true, because they actually do what makes them the most money. Their only source of income is not just ad revenue. People also buy it as a megaphone to push an ideology.
Imagine you own a news station like CBS, you're the big shot CEO. An advertiser pays $100k for an advertising contract for 30-second spots during the ad time during your news hour. Nice sale. Then later some guy comes along and says "Here is a $100k if you run 3 separate news stories about pollution in China over the next month. Also here are some leads for the research for your story if you want them."
Are the two scenarios really that different? Do you think CBS won't take $100k to do what appears to be a legitimate story on a real-world problem, which probably needs coverage anyway?
But in reality this angle of coverage, with the intense focus specifically on China and their pollution, might just be part of a web of anti-China propaganda that only builds the incomes of the military-industrial complex. China is the bad guy, look at all that pollution, says the news media. They don't care for their people or animals. How horrible of them. Let's focus on this, says the news media. Then after that an anti-Libya story. Then an anti-Syria story about that civil war. Then the public thinks these are the most important things in the world, nevermind the population of detroit getting lead poisoning from their broken lines. Nevermind the homeless camps, the S&P 500 is doing fine, says the media. Priorities.
Do you think the military-industrial complex (or any other industry) wouldn't pay $100k to generate sentiment against countries they wish to generate a war-spending "We need defense!" narrative, to get more of our tax dollars from the US government? Why wouldn't they? Companies spend $10M on lobbying congress, and get $100M tax breaks in return. Obviously a profitable move, so now everyone is doing it.
Why would the news media be any different? You can influence the public, which in turn influences not only how the public spends and how people act, but also how the government spends and acts in response to the people.
Mark Twain said "If you don't read the newspaper, you're uninformed. If you do read the newspaper, you're misinformed."
This has been true a long time, but the depth of it is coming to light more and more. Yellow journalism has spread beyond journalism, to all facets of media.
6 companies now own 90% of all print media, news media, movies, television, advertising space, and radio. 6 companies. All that. 90% of everything we see or hear that comes out a speaker or on a screen or on a printed page. http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-w3wOv0wqjeY/UXBRc0iETkI/AAAAAAABhqk/9gaLBu-kmt8/s1600/graphic.jpg
(AT&T bought Time-Warner in 2018, that's the only thing that has changed https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WarnerMedia)
These 6 companies are all sellouts. That's why they're the only 6 left and the monopolies just keep consolidating. They truly control what we see and hear, except when we're in nature and the natural world, and except when we're talking to each other. But if you're watching anything from a screen or page from any even remotely mainstream outlet, it's in that 90%. And if there is message they don't want broadcasted, it will not be in that media. It will not be in theaters, or in the news. You will not see it or hear it, unless you really look for it. Regardless of how important it is. And if they want you to think something is incredibly important, then they will talk about it constantly. They set the priorites. They set what you spend your time thinking about. If you're in to death metal, then that culture and media guides what you think about. If you're in to hating/liking Trump then that controls what you think about. If you're in to drama TV series, then that taints how you see the world. It sets your priorities. Something awful that you'd think had a 0.0001% chance of happening in real life, you now think has a 1% chance of happening because of some show you watched that showed you the details of how it works. So now you're scared of xyz because that idea is stuck in your head. It happens all the time when kids watch scary movies and have bad dreams. It happens to adults too, to watch scary media and have your worldview permanently warped about one subject matter. Repeat this process across 1000 subject matters and suddenly the media has created a warped person who has lost touch with reality.
Thus, if you fully trust the media, even comedy media, you are setting yourself up to be literally programmed like a computer. Our viewpoints may vary from that of the media we consume, but the priorities are unchanged. This is the giant part of the iceberg below the water that isn't as noticeable. If you watch a show that talks about sex a lot, you are thinking about sex a lot. Whether you are opposed to liking the subject matter, it's being thought about. And that influences your regular day-to-day thinking when not watching the show. What you spend time thinking about tells your brain what to prioritize. You get better at things you practice, that's how neuron connections work, they strengthen with repeated use.
When you watch a show, you are giving the "clock cycles" of your mind to an external ideology, even if you oppose the content. And with the news many allow that because we may mistakenly think we're being informed. But in reality it is largely a programming device owned by billionaires. Important stories are regularly not shown. Unimportant stories are regularly highlighted as worthy of hours of time. It seems backwards, because it is. The Siren song is trying pull and sway the ship of your mind, to crash in to their island, so you cannot escape.
This is why falling trust in the news media is happening. And it's not because the news is lazy, even though that may play in to it. The stories that are omitted and focused on are carefully chosen. Sure things slip through the cracks here and there, but it's like mowing your lawn, you just have to get almost all of it.
The information we receive constructs our idea of reality. Even with the most brilliant mind, you cannot know something that you have no way to come in to contact with. If certain ideas are omitted with enough regularity, and other ideas reinforced with enough regularity, then the shaping takes place over time. Not through the enforcement of opinions, like so many think it works, but instead through the influencing of priorities. Of what you spend your minutes on this Earth holding in your mind.
What you focus on with the activities of your mind sets your priorities. That which you can completely ignore ceases to matter, given enough time. Be careful of the pied piper of media. They want to set your priorities. They are not your friends. They are not here to inform you, this is just a mask at this point in history. They want to set your priorities. More and more people are waking up to the depth of this fact. The media are not primarily driven by ads anymore, they are bribed to say things because it is profitable for those doing the bribing. If they were driven by ads, they would be working their asses off to improve public trust to improve ratings. But people don't watch anymore because they don't trust it. So bribing and incompetence are the only other answers. And the consistency of the news-coverage omissions doesn't suggest incompetence. So bribing it is. Are we really surprised? Nah. This is human nature. There's 6 media companies because people who run giant companies are greedy, not because they wish to inform you.
Don't get me wrong, have fun watching things you enjoy, but just be aware of the manipulative intentions lurking behind the media we consume, especially when it comes to news media. The media wants to set your life's priorities. They want to own your mind by controlling what you think about, just for profit and control. Don't let them. This is the slow domestication of the human race, one tv show after another, bringing the billions in to the folds of the billionaires. Be a conscious media consumer, lest your mind be swept away like so many others. Even being a rebel is captured. The anti-media group is a huge demographic these days, with only 40% trusting the media. I believe it's partly how Trump got elected. ("The media all hates him so he must be doing something right.")
We're being played like a fiddle from every angle, and the only smart thing to do is to largely disengage from the media and our reactions to it, and instead focus on real-world events. When it comes to media, sometimes the only winning move is not to play.