Considering the conflicts currently taking place in Mali and Syria as well as important political events in Pakistan and Egypt, I thought that today I would see how these are being covered by major American news outlets.
CNN – “the worldwide leader in news” – decided to run with Lance Armstrong on the front page.
Now, it’s not that CNN doesn’t have a story on Mali; it’s just that it’s hidden underneath 10 feet of rubbish.
And while I found a Mali story on CNN, there was nothing to be found on Syria, Pakistan or Egypt. Too much news on moisturizing jeans I guess.
ABC News does not fare much better. More Lance, less Pat Robertson wife pageantry and a slide-show dedicated to nipple slippage. Luckily, these stories are not the top headlines. These are.
Depressed with ABC, I thought that maybe Fox News would be a better source for today’s events (no I didn’t). Being mavericks, Fox decided that its headline should be different, so they led with a plane story.
Not bad, although I still don’t think that it’s the most important story of the day. But I guess I can take solace in the fact that these headlines were only secondary.
NBC and CBS’s headlines are on the hostage crisis in Algeria, which is fair enough. Although I can still make fun of them because of stuff like this.
Even the Washington Post’s main story is puzzling. Is this really the best you can come up with?
All of this to say that I’m not surprised. I understand what drives the media (profit) and I understand that more hits are generated by talking about a disgraced bicyclist and his shrunken testicle(s) than something that actually matters (a civil war, perhaps). And I guess we can blame ourselves. Today’s most popular stories on Huffington Post had more to do with male contractions than about international relations or political instability.
At some point, though, shouldn’t we demand more from the media? Shouldn’t they be informing us rather than entertaining us?
I’m enough of a realist to know that this won’t happen under our current system of economic incentives, which is why I support the idea of a publicly funded media outlet. The incentive of a public broadcaster is not simply profit (say goodbye to news stories about moisturizing jeans), but about informing the citizenry.
As more and more news outlets attempt to increase profit by running sensationalist/meaningless/partisan banter, there are fewer reputable options available to find informative news. But the fact that it’s more difficult to find good news is less of a tragedy than the fact that our economic system is turning news into entertainment and, thus, making the public more ignorant about the world today.