Tuesday, September 07, 2004

All the news that fits

I have grown weary of the news. Mostly because we seem to be missing so much of it. Taking William Randolph Hearst as their patron saint, modern American news outlets have decided that telling us what they want us to know is more important than telling us what we need to know.

The worst crime of all, in my opinion, is the way the media decides there is one “it” story and that story will, above even wars and natural disasters, always have a place of prominence. Even when it’s no longer news.

Here in the San Francisco Bay Area the “it” story is the trial of Scott Peterson. And most of the coverage doesn’t even qualify as journalism, let alone “news.”

Let’s remove the personalities and look at this strictly as a crime. A woman disappears; that’s news. Her body is found; that’s news. Her husband is arrested; that’s also news. And when a verdict is reached, ok, that qualifies as news. However, taking up 5 minutes of a 30-minute local news broadcast with “interviews” with legal “experts” getting their opinions on the day’s testimony and what it means for the case is not news.

An interview with someone who went to high school with a murder victim is not news, and yet the media wants us to believe it is. Somewhere along the line, “opinion” became “news” and now it’s impossible to watch pretty much any television news without being told what might happen, what could happen, and what might happen if what could happen happens. (Follow all that?)

It’s not like these people have to struggle to fill up their news broadcasts, is it? The world is most obligingly supplying us all with non-stop material in the form of wars, genocide, terrorist attacks, crime, poverty, and other forms of mayhem. As if that weren’t enough, Mother Nature is kindly bestowing upon us hurricanes, locust invasions, droughts, and more. And yet there always seems to be room for the “it” story.

The problem is, that to make for the “it” story, the networks deny us full and impartial coverage of the aforementioned wars, genocides, droughts, etc. Ah…but who cares what happens in Africa as long as we can all get through the day secure in the knowledge that our media has qualified us to have an opinion about the behavior of Scott Peterson’s girlfriend.

1 comment:

sea said...

Decca, I'm in complete agreement. On a related note, play around with this: newsmap: "Newsmap is an application that visually reflects the constantly changing landscape of the Google News news aggregator... a tool to divide information into quickly recognizable bands which, when presented together, reveal underlying patterns in news reporting across cultures and within news segments in constant change around the globe... It's objective is to simply demonstrate visually the relationships between data and the unseen patterns in news media. It is not thought to display an unbiased view of the news, on the contrary it is thought to ironically accentuate the bias of it."