Chris McKitterick (mckitterick) wrote,
Chris McKitterick

The Problem with the Mainstream Media

I just responded to an excellent post made last night by saycestsay, which got me thinking about the problem with today's mainstream news. She was appalled and disgusted by yesterday's coverage of things like Anna Nicole Smith's death, the astronaut surprise, the Pelosi flap, and saw a double-standard in how things are reported (the woman is always psycho while the man is not reported as such). I think that double-standard is actually a symptom of a wider problem in the news. My response:

What's up with stuff like panties-stories being "news" when real news is getting glossed over? It so clearly demonstrates what has become of reporting: Now, if you want to be a successful news organization, you have to entertain, and that entertainment has to be accessible to the lowest common denominator. "Gee-whiz, Wally! That famous lady isn't wearing any underpants!" So the fuck what?

But some of yesterday's stories were both news and entertainment. For example, we expect our astronauts to be the optimal examples of Americans: Healthier than the rest of us, smarter, more sane, and so on. So when one of them does a cross-country drive in Depends, it's both news and entertainment. However, what most of the stories I've seen are missing is what caused all this mess: What really brought on all of this? Was it really months of stalking by the unstable astronaut or was it a "love triangle" as some reports suggest? Because they had to deliver the story before they knew the full story, the news we see is superficial... and the worst part is that we as news consumers have been trained to accept this and then move on, losing interest before the full story comes out.

The Pelosi thing, I presume, is a bunch of political spin. The Republicans were trying to run with "Look how spendthrift she is!" while using only surface news, themselves - ha! victims of their own Fox News! - and will end up with egg on their faces when she decides to fly coach just to spite them.

Same for the Anna Nicole Smith story. I see a tragic series of events: Her death, her son's death, the death of her financial enemy (the son of the rich old guy), and so on... which suggests to me that the 12-year battle for those $1.2 billion is what really killed her and possibly the others. Money was the killer. There's the real story. It pisses me off that we'll not learn that from the news until it's no longer "news," a little paragraph-long story on page 3D.

So what I think this really is isn't so much sexism as much as simply the news sources no longer doing their job: Investigating and delivering the news. Nowadays they're only reporting in the way that on-the-scene reporters do their jobs: "Gosh-wow, didja see that explosion? I don't know what it was or who fired the missile, but wasn't it cool and scary?" - or - "Hey, get a load of her nekkid bottom! She's not wearing any underpants!"

It's all about delivering the info-tainment before the other guy does, and don't doubt that blood-and-guts is "entertainment" just as much as nekkid people is; see the horror genre's influence in Hollywood. Anyway, who wants to see a guy not wearing underpants?

And that all boils down to money: Grab the readers before the other guy does and not only will we stay in business, but we'll drive them out of business and get rich! Here is why I think the Internet will save "news" as we used to know it.

So: All you blogger investigative-news-types, keep at it!

Tags: politics

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