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Sunday, July 12, 2009

It's Called "Priorities," America. Look Into It. And Our Media...It May Be Too Late.

All right. Fair warning. I'm about to unpack the Snark. You know, I've really been Holding It In lately because I cannot tell anymore if it's Hormones or Generalized Malaise or The Lousy Economy or what, so I've just kind of tried to rein in my Irk and release it harmlessly in traffic or by randomly venting at Jared here and there or by taking a few feeble smacks at Sam when he's home (which is about 3.2 minutes a week).

But really, why have a blog if not for cheap therapy? Duh.

Okay. So. WTF has happened to The Concept of JOURNALISM in this country? Has the so-called Mainstream Media just tossed in the towel and become the effing National Enquirer/Weekly World News now? First, we were all held hostage by the goddam OctoMom for eleventy months. Now, I cannot turn on CNN or MSNBC or pick up a previously respected piece of newsprint without encountering yet another lurid piece of reportage on the (I thought) deceased "King of Pop." Despite his arguably sizeable contributions to a myriad of charities, this tragic figure was, first and foremost, an entertainer. One of considerable and vast stature, yes. One whose indelible mark will be left upon the music world, yes. But good heavens. Enough already.

Buried beneath the garish and sensational heap of details surrounding each and every minute bit of this story is the real news of the day: Nevada's Senator John Ensign, whose self-righteous condemnation of President Clinton is now laughable, had his parents buy off his mistress like a common prostitute; security lapses allowed covert investigators to sneak bomb components into 10 federal government buildings and reassemble them in restrooms; Washington, D. C. recognized same-sex unions, just to name a few. Did you miss any of these stories? If you did, don't feel bad. How could you find them? All the major networks, including the music networks, cable news networks, and entertainment networks ran nothing but stories covering the life, death, and more indelicate details of the pop icon. It was inescapable. In 1980 John Lennon, member of the Beatles, another major force in American pop music (and the peace movement, and the anti-war movement), was brutally murdered. I remember it. What I don't remember is this kind of media saturation. In September 2008, major American cinema icon and million dollar philanthropist Paul Newman died. There was nothing near this kind of broadcast coverage.

To be fair, in 1980, there was no Twitter, no TMZ, no Google. There was no burgeoning Internet; CNN had only been broadcasting for 6 months. And let's face it; like the Octomom story, if there wasn't an appetite for it, the media wouldn't give it to the American People.

What the hell is happening out there?

The news media gives more coverage to President Obama's ability to take out a fly than his ability to be a dignified statesman and tackle the problems facing the nation. On MSNBC.com a couple of days ago, I had the surreal experience of watching a panel discussion of whether or not the new Sacha Baron Cohen film "Bruno" would further damage the standing of homosexuals while a second reporter broke in with updates on President Obama's visit with Pope Benedict; at the same time the crawl trumpeted a death during the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona and something about a cervical cancer drug.

Really?

Right now, on three news sites, (CNN.com, MSNBC.com, and ABCNews.com), there are, respectively, 4, 4, and 10 news stories on The Gloved One. This, eighteen days after his death.

Is anyone talking about North Korea? The two female journalists who were sentenced to 12 years hard labor in prison there? How about the fact that there are two senators (Baucus D-Montana; Grassley R-Iowa) already working hard in a bi-partisan fashion on a health care compromise, but both parties are trying to get them to quit?

Sigh.

The press took a Major Vacation during The Angel Of Death's administration because they didn't want to seem unpatriotic. They let him have a Free Pass and look What Happened. Now the press is just getting like a lazy parent who doesn't want to hear his/her kid whine and bitch and so feeds the brat a steady diet of junk food: Happy Meals, soda, Skittles, chips, cheezdoodles, and chocolate doughnuts. We're getting exactly what we want and we'll end up like that greasy-mouthed brat--sitting around in a fat-assed daze, not knowing what happened and looking for a quick fix.

Haven't we learned? There isn't one.

15 comments:

  1. Great post. Exactly what I have been thinking. Please, please, please print this and mail it to the major networks. They need to hear it.

    I've gotten to the point that I tape the news to watch later. The minute MJ's face appears, I fast forward. There have been days when the 30 minute broadcast, minus ads and fluff, could be watched in 5 minutes or fewer.

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  2. Very well said. I often wonder if the media conditions us or vice-versa. Have reality shows, the gossip-mongering mags and the narcissistic news anchors taken over? Because nowadays T.V. feels more and more like a live broadcast of the National Inquirer. Even the quick fix, if it existed, is too much like work.

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  3. Oops. I think it's "Enquirer". Probably a good sign that I'm not sure how to spell it. :-)

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  4. Whoa, Nance, you unleashed! And very well, I must say. Applause!

    Part of the problem is that the copyeditors are all getting sacked I am a former copyeditor myself. The new media gobble up content like potato chips (I know you like potato chips; perhaps that was a mischosen analogy and I should have said M & Ms or something). It is all about speed and not veracity. There's a certain amount of space to fill with "stuff"--and now it's becoming "any old stuff." As a wise old man with whom I worked at a newspaper once said about our page composition, "Just put 'er down 'n get away." Furthermore, deadlines rule and they're becoming shorter and shorter in favor of cranking out whatever you can crank out in the amount of time you have. So you grasp at ANY content instead of the right content. What goes out the window? Priorities and the time to verify facts. That no one in the press has the time to be responsibly honest is very, very scary to me. Propaganda, bowdlerism, and censorship work in a similar way.

    P.S. New bunny quite imperious! I think I'd be afraid to meet him/her in a dark alley. But I loved the tongue-bunny.

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  5. Oops. The copyeditor left out the period after the word "sacked"! Blogger comments sometimes behave weirdly and won't let me preview.

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  6. sputnik--I'm going back into this post and doing a bit of editing myself. i can see a few issues already.

    beyond that, the press has bigger problems than a shortage of copyeditors. it's a lack of journalistic integrity, a dearth of smarts, and a whole lot of yellow journalism/"if it bleeds, it leads" mentality. disgusting. ps--i'm also a huge fan not only of lay's original but of peanut m&m's. in moderation, of course. but i cook every night and we eat WELL.

    ortizzle--how true. how sad that the components of tragedy that made up so much of MJ's life cannot be mentioned and then mourned in a dignified manner. can't the people who stole a normal life from him make up for it by offering him some grace in his death? apparently not. i just feel sorry for him and angry at the media for perpetuating this circus.

    CJ--i'm sure the networks have heard it, but did you see the "ratings", whatever they are or whose they are, for the various telecasts related to MJ's death? through the roof. but when there is nothing else aired...well....

    Gina--hey! nice to see you here at the Dept! thanks for stopping by and weighing in.

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  7. A big record store (somewhat rightfully so, as it is a music store) had a sign up on their front marquee saying, "RIP Michael Jackson." He clearly won't be able to RIP if we keep chattering about every minute detail of his life and death.

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  8. All of this makes me glad I still get a newspaper delivered to my door, and that my daughter monopolizes the TV for her xbox games. Much preferable to watching the news on TV.

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  9. The economy dampened my news watching for sure, but the MJ coverage really did it. If there are journalists with integrity at lower levels, I don't think they are allowed to go up the ladder until they conform to the bubble gum news.

    Love the bunny! And, if I haven't already said so (brain fog), I like the new look, too.

    Shirley

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  10. shirley--Oh, i hear that. I watch very little news anymore compared to what I used to now that there is no election cycle and the news is all about the lousy economy. i'm so sick of being told that my life depends upon the frikking stock market. and if the Other Choice is this "infotainment sludge", then no thank you.

    but thanks for the positive feedback on the tweaks.

    J.@jj--i get the daily paper as well, and the Cleveland news is disheartening on its own. let's face it: things just suck right now. i got 2 new books delivered to my door, but they aren't exactly happy: a new bio treatment of Mary Lincoln and the new expose on the Columbine tragedy. sigh. I know. I KNOW.

    Mikey--I have a terrible feeling that MJ will never RIP. It's not the nature of the business nor some members of his family. So sad.

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  11. I stopped reading the newspaper for over a year after, two weeks in a row, the "if it bleeds it leads" thing made me sick to my stomach. Sometimes the cruelty of humans is just too much. To be honest, I'd rather read about stupid celebrity shit.

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  12. Yay! I was hoping for a Nance Rant, and I sure got one. Thanks for many analogies, metaphors, comparisons, too. Love the Angel of Death (as a Texan and an American, I hate the man) reference. I agree with you 100 percent. You go, Nance!

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  13. Preach it, my sister!

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  14. apathy lounge--sigh. not that anyone cares...!

    melissa b.--well, as usual, i was pretty late to this party, but i did try to avoid it all together. why? i have no idea.

    J.@jj--hmmmm....it's like a vicious cycle, then.

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