I shook my head as the images flickered on the giant-screen TV in the dealership service waiting room. Pop Tart’s millionth plea for help was saturating the “news” channels. In my college mass media and communications class many moons ago, we talked about the gatekeepers — the editors, writers and other journalists who decide what’s news and what isn’t. As they aired the footage (five times in one hour) of the Pop Tart being loaded into an ambulance, I contemplated what other news–local, national or world–they were sacrificing to show this apparently tantalizing footage over and over. And over. Surely, four or five things must have happened around the world that deserved mention.
But that would mean news people, especially broadcasters, would have to relinquish the new role they’ve given themselves: voyeurs and prognosticators. Instead of telling the truth and broadcasting items of interest that people should know (even if they don’t know they need to know), they wait for the latest celebrity implosion and spend hour upon hour trying to guess what’s going to happen next (instead of just waiting to see what happens and, you know, REPORTING it).
Even the political coverage isn’t “news.” It’s fortune-telling, and things that don’t necessarily have huge meaning are molded and shaped–twisted sometimes–until it seems that they do. Why not just give the results and let the people watching come to their own conclusions?
Of course, I’m asking this of media who hosted debates with the candidates and asked most of the questions of the “hot” ones. Every person on that stage should have been given a chance to answer every question. By not allowing that to happen, the media helped to determine who the front-runners were simply by giving them more airtime. Uh, hello. The media isn’t supposed to make, shape or create the news.
Oh, what does choosing the next leader of the free world matter anyway when Pop Tart – who couldn’t scream any louder for help if she had a microphoned megaphone on an amplifier formerly used at a KISS concert – dangles over the edge again and again?
Tell you what. I’ll be more than happy to watch the news channels again when the headlines revolve around something like: “This Just In: News Decides to Stop Catering to Ratings and People’s Lowest Inclinations” and “Real News of Importance, Relevance and Matter Hits the Airwaves.”