An Alaskan journalist's perspective on local and national issues

Posts tagged ‘NPR’

Amanda Knox and the Failure of the Media

It is getting a little bit too annoying, really.  When we are in a societal calamity.  The EU is in real economic trouble.  America’s economy is heading in the wrong direction again.  The Middle East is still in chaos.  There are problems that are everywhere.  The vote on Pebble Mine is just around the corner.  The Alaskan economy isn’t all that great right now either.  All of this is going on, and what does the media see fit to either have as “Breaking News” or as the “Top Story” is the story of Amanda Knox coming back to America.

The story goes that there is a girl named Amanda Knox.  She was an exchange student in Italy.  Her roommate, Meredith Kercher, was found with her throat slit.  Knox and her boyfriend at the time, were charged and found guilty for the crime.  That was four years ago.  The rest is history, until recently.  The verdict of her appeal acquitted her, and now she has returned home.  And what has the news seen fit to do – talk about it to death!  I am starting to agree with Jon Stewart about what 24-hour news networks are designed to do

24 hour news networks are built for one thing, and that’s 9/11, and the type of gigantic news event that the type of apparatus that exists in this building and exists at the other 24-hour are perfectly suited to cover.  In the absence of that, they’re not just gonna say, ‘there’s not that much that’s urgent or important or conflicted happening today, so we are going to gin up, we are going to bring forth more conflict and more sensationalism because we want you to continue watching us 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even when the news doesn’t necessarily warrant that type of behavior.'”

Really, this whole event how shined a spotlight, to me anyway, of something that really does need to be examined in the world of professional journalism – where the priorities are.  Stewart is absolutely right.  These networks won’t just admit that they don’t have anything that is worthwhile to talk about.  Thankfully, NPR, PBS, BBC, and the alternative media sources are doing the smart thing and giving this issue the attention that it deserves.  But really, when one examines this issue critically, it has to be pointed out that what does this matter?

What possibly contributions does this event give society.  What’s more, why does everybody care so much?  There is a greater societal problem that is displayed here – that the people of this country are starting to look less like an informed populace and more like Mike Judge’s creation, Idiocrisy.  When one examines what gets in the news anymore, and where the people tend to focus their attention, it is easy to see why the socially aware are starting to lose hope in the human race and their ability to make any productive change anymore.  This is not a key issue in this debate.  In fact, Amanda Knox is nothing more than a symptom, or even less than that, but a skin mark, on the problem that is the massive ball of corpses that is America and the priorities that this country has.  She is just a sign of what is to come in the media that has grown up around the corporations of this country.

Fox News may be the great white whale of journalism, but MSNBC and CNN are not innocent of what plagues Fox News – bad journalism that is intentionally made to seem much more important than it actually is.  Does anybody remember the Casey Anthony trial?  Or maybe you remember the example that Stewart gave in his article above, about how there was the press conference after Anthony Weiner was found out for having shown his weiner to a girl.  How when Pelosi said that she wasn’t going to talk about Weiner, but rather about jobs and the economy, everybody left.  These are just a few of the many examples of how these news networks are all completely ignoring the important issues.

There is another issue that seems to have been completely ignored by the media – Rick Perry and his massive political project/blunder – the Trans-Texas Corridor.  Put simply, it was a giant complex that was intended to route all major traffic to heavy population centers of Texas.  Costly, disruptive to private property, and just a giant waste, not to mention a very big bit of ugly business.  While it looks like Perry is losing some of the clout that he had, this issue has not been raised at all in any significant way.

See, this is the problem with the news – they seem to have a hard time reporting the news.  They seem to have it all mixed up that when you are charged with reporting the news to people, which means things that are of consequence happening in the local, state, national, or worldwide level.  Something like this Corridor would be a huge thing to talk about, especially with a candidate who bashes the federal government, but then goes around and does things like this.  Call it what you like, Perry, but government by any other name is still government.  That goes for the Ron Paul fans too.

But there is hope on the horizon.  The alternative media seems to be gaining traction.  More and more people are seeking out places where they can get the news and not have it be a corporate machine.  It used to be that just the eggheads were watching shows like FRONTLINE and listening to NPR.  It used to be that the corporate machine believed that nobody cared what those on the internet had to say.  But that isn’t true, not anymore.  Now, with YouTube, journalists having blogs, and several other blogs and vlogs being watched, the world of social commentary and journalism is growing.  This is a good thing.

In a world where the economy is heading in the wrong direction again, we need to have some voices who are above the sensationalist maw and are able to take the bag of snakes and lay them out straight.

Peace out,

Lefty

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This I Believe

True to a segment that NPR has on its Morning Edition, I have decided that I would do my own segment in this.  The rules are simple – say what you believe, do not be discouraging, do not use only negative statments.  That in mind, here is my own version of This I Believe –

I believe as the late George Carlin believed – that if a person believes that there is a solution, they are part of the problem.  There is no cure-all method to what ails this country right now.  There is no panacea for the modern American political climate.  There is no Advil for the cultural divides that are growing every single day in this country.

I believe that America has a lot of issues right now.  Things are becoming more heated over the years as people in this country are becoming more and more zealous in the defense of their personal and political credos.  This is an interesting time in American history that, once again, is at the crossroads of its own destiny.  It is at a point where things are changing so fast that people are struggling to catch up and they don’t know what to do.

This is never an easy thing for people to be able to live with.  I above all others can understand how hard this is.  Given the career path that I want to follow, it is only natural that I wonder where the future is going to be and if I have a place in it.  That is the big question above all others that I think terrifies people in power in this country is that the world is changing so fast and America may not have the place that it used to have in the world that will grow around it.  This new world where things are totally different than the one we understand.

With technology improving every single day and with all the things in society that are changing, it is only natural to get a little lost.  This isn’t a bad thing.  People’s reactions to this have sometimes been unhealthy, but to feel lost in this ever-changing world is not wrong.  In fact, it is one of the few parts of what is happening in this world today that makes any legitimate sense.

I believe that the American people need to become more involved.  Really, to not be involved in politics has never made much sense to me.  It has never been something that has made much sense since what is happening in politics right now affects everybody.  To choose to not pay attention does leave one thinking that when things go wrong, people have very little right to complain.

But while people also need to take things seriously,  I do believe that people also need to have some fun.  George Carlin was an amazing influence to me because he was able to understand that there are some severe problems in modern society, but if you are looking too hard at it all the time, you are destined to wear yourself out and to give up.  While he openly admitted that he didn’t care what happened to society, he tried still to make his efforts to get people to think worth something.

I believe that those who think there is a solution are part of the problem because the cultural, political, and social divides are so great and changing so fast in this modern age that to believe that one idea is a perfect fit is not productive.  There needs to be an open mind and an open dialogue on all things.  Because if there is a perfect solution, no one person can find it.  It must be a collaborative effort with people looking toward a brighter future and being able to help everybody.

There lies the problem.  With so many cultural and social divides, like faith, party affiliations, and things like that, sometimes people are so dedicated to their ideologies that they aren’t willing to talk.  This is the problem with modern politics.  People, I think, have lost their way in a growing world where the narrative has been for them to pick a side.

So there is no perfect fit.  There are good ideas, bad ideas, and ideas that shouldn’t be on the table at all.  But in the end, if we can come together as a species, willing to try and fix things as best we can, until we have to come together again, then perhaps Carlin is wrong in the belief that there is no hope.

That is my version of This I Believe.  Not perfect, I know, but there you go.

Peace out,

Eli

The Difference Between Corporate News and Real News

Fox News has had a big event that they published on their network as being one of the major campaign hits against the liberals.  Fox News Sunday had Jon Stewart on their network.  It was an interview with Chris Wallace.  This was a pretty cool interview to watch.  Thank goodness somebody on YouTube had the sense enough to post the interview.  Part one is here.  Part two is here.  This was a great catharsis for those of us who believe in the genuine media that it is supposed to be.  For those of us who believe in real reporting, who believe that political commentary can be combined with getting all the facts, it felt good to listen to Jon Stewart bash all of the corporate news networks.

Jon Stewart had a great quote about what he believes 24-hour news networks exist for.

 24-hour news networks are built for one thing, and that’s 9/11.  And the type of gigantic news event that the type of apparatues that exists in this building and exists in the other 24-news hours is perfectly suited to cover.  In the absence of that, they’re not just gonna say ‘there’s not that much that’s urgent or important or conflicted happening today, so we’re going to gin up.  We are going to bring forth more conflict and more sensationalism because we want you to continue watching us 24-hours a day, seven days a week.  Even when the news doesn’t necessarily warrant that type of behavior.'”

A long quote, yes, but absolutely correct, and horribly brutal against the networks who do 24-hour broadcasts.  Sure, I get my political commentary from Keith Olbermann (so glad he’s back!), Rachel Maddow, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Lawrenece O’Donnell, but there is a reason that all straight news that this reporter gets is from BBC or PBS Newshour.  The major corporate media is not designed for the kind of news that isn’t in conflict, isn’t sensational.  Because let’s face it – the news is boring.  To most people, who don’t care two craps what happens in the world, news is not something fun.

Watch the BBC news or PBS Newshour and you’ll see for yourself.  The news is generally delievered in a monotonous way that doesn’t seem all that entertaining.  The talk in a very low-key way.  They do this because the bulk of information that matters isn’t sensational.  It’s important, yes, but it’s often dull.   Talking about politics can be pretty fun.  Finding the funny side of things is the reason that Jon Stewart has a job in the first place.  But it also needs to be taken seriously, which is how O’Donnell, Maddow, and Olbermann tend to treat it.  But the fact is that raw news is rarely a lot of fun.

You can drive in your car and have NPR playing, and most times, you won’t listen all that hard.  It’s not a bad thing to be that way.  It’s the way of the world.  You perk up and turn the radio up when something really catches your interest.  That’s how people work.  There are different things that interest different people.  But to even listen to something on a topic you like in the monotonous way that NPR reporters talk takes an amount of dedication and, I guess it would be patience, that the bulk of people in this country don’t have.  So, how does the corporate media make up for this?  They sensationalize.

Does anybody remember the backlash after Anthony Weiner was found out for having sent images of his junk to other women?  The media went off their nut about this!  Jon Stewart brought this up as an example.  After he decided to capitulate to the six-year-old (in spirit) members of Congress and step down, Nancy Pelosi was going to make a press conference.  Everybody from the major media organizations was expecting her to blast Weiner (I think the only reason people got upset about this is because the guy’s name is Weiner).  They thought she was going to come out with both barrels blazing.  And what happened?  She decided not to let the six-year-old American audience rule her, and talk about things that matter, like jobs, the economy, stuff like that.  Stewart asked Wallace what happened after she said that –

What did everybody do? (Stewart?)
Left (Wallace)

Stewart went on to make another REALLY good point –

The embarrassment is that I am given credibility in this world because of the disappointment that the public has in what the news media does.

Stewart went on the attack against Wallace, which was great.  It was great to listen to a guy who is openly a political satirist getting bitter and upset with being called biased.  He said that his bias first is comedy, next comes politics.  The problem with the corporate media like MSNBC, CNN, and Fox is that they go out of their way to make things exponentially bigger than they actually are.  Fox blew the Shirley Sharrod thing totally out of proportion.  Anderson Cooper on CNN has introduced stories in the most cataclysmic of tones that even his guests agree was nothing.  MSNBC has had Ed Schultz go off on tangents.  There is a reason that Rachel Maddow has such respect on that network – because she had an obsession with the fact, connecting dots, and getting the information to people.  I think she is the person who has done the least amoung of sensationalizing on MSNBC.

Stewart closed his interview stating that he has seen no significant change with how things are run in this country after the fall of this economy, which is a great point.

But the fact is that people believe that they are being given the correct news by the big corporate 24-hour networks, but they aren’t.  They are being given news that is sensational, and news that is often either blown out of proportion, or dumbed-down so that people won’t think about it too critically.  But people need to realize that that isn’t what the news is always, or in my opinion, even often, about.  There real reporters like my friend, Heather Aronno.  She did her first report on APRN today.  Here’s a link to it.  Check this it, it’s good stuff.  It’s fair reporting about a pretty nifty topic – teaching young people how filmmaking is done.  People think that all media is biased.  I agree, but not to the same extent that they believe it is biased.  I think true objective reporting isn’t possible, because nobody is completely objective, but I do also believe that the bias is not so big, and most reporters genuinely want to get all the facts, or as many as they can fit.

Peace out,

Eli

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