Extra! Extra! Read All About It: Newspapers For Sale!

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“We love… talking, and not talking. We could not talk or talk forever and still find things to not talk about.” – Sherri Ann Cabot (Jennifer Coolidge), from Best in Show

Yet again the shit-eating grin of our nation’s media achieved full toothiness when it collectively reacted to the release of President Barack Obama’s long-form birth certificate. Over the last few months (years), news coverage of this fantastic banality went something like this:

  1. The media talks about the President of the United State not being born in The United States.
  2. The President of the United States proves he was born in the United States.
  3. The media talks about how much longer we will talk about the President of the United States being from the United States.

Yes, that’s right, our 24-hour news networks are now speculating how much longer they will talk about something they should never have been talking about in the first place. To be clear: they are now creating news. This would be akin to James Cameron’s sequel to Avatar depicting nothing more than the original cast sitting around talking about how much longer they’re going to be in the movie Avatar.

The problem with the media isn’t solely its depravity and need for attention – it is also its format. 24-hour news networks have A LOT of time to fill. What else are they going to talk about? They basically have to appeal to buzz and speculation in order to fill time. Remember when news was a synonym for reporting? Sure, you could argue that they’re reporting on how retarded everyone in this country seems to be – but for 24 hours straight? If I wanted to have that communicated to me with never-ending incessancy I’d go to the mall.

So, how do they pass this off as news?

If you watch the face of our media, and the tone in which stories of this ilk are reported, the newscasters speak with a willing naiveté that seems to absolve them of having thoughts. While it’s true that news should be free of editorial, there should be a point in the process of researching a story where the story itself must be scrutinized as to whether or not it is “news worthy.” This term used to be commonplace in the news industry. Those two words contains the basis for another misplaced canon of broadcasting: journalistic integrity.

For an example of this, check out 60 Minutes. For one hour every Sunday, 60 Minutes broadcasts real stories (roughly .6% of the total amount of hours a single 24-hour news network spends broadcasting during the week). Their stories are thoughtful, but raw, with no editorial (save the Andy Rooney segment). What editorial does exist exists in the head of the viewer – based on what Aristotle may have referred to as a natural evocation of pity. We inherently understand good and bad. It is unnecessary to point it out. 60 Minutes understands this, and in doing so reports only on “news worthy” stories which stir our thoughts and move us to feel that which naturally occurs when viewing things like injustice, malice or selfishness.

The only feeling a story about the President’s birth certificate stirs in me is frustration with the media. For those that find it news worthy, I suppose they are filled with the jubilation that stems from their distain for the President. You can tell by the smile.


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