Monday, 29 June 2009

The Curse of 24 Hour News Coverage

The world has stopped spinning. At least it has felt that way since last Thursday. The tremendous tragedy of losing two pop culture icons on the same day is certainly not lost on even the most cynical among us, (read: ME!) but since then I have been lost in the morass and swill that has been the wall-to-wall coverage. It is not news to anybody, that the media has an ugly case of attention deficit disorder and an itchy trigger finger waiting to pounce on the tawdry, the sensational and the ugly. The fact that they rarely wait to get the story accurate is of no concern. All that matters is filling airtime and scooping the competition. Over the last few days we have been subjected to interviews with people taking photographs of the ambulance leaving the scene and how they felt, disgraceful displays by "F" list wannabes who are desperately re-seeking the spotlight, and supposition and innuendo slung by reporters who should know better in an attempt to lay blame on a medical person who may or may not have played any role in this misery. I would like to see the 24/7 news channels use some tact, taste, and civility in all of this, and grant the family some peace to grieve , but I know that this is a bit like attempting to get the Husband to clean his home office. Instead, the world will certainly be subjected to many more months of speculation stories, money-grubbing publicity hounds, and anchors hoping to make their bones on this horror. I have thought often over the weekend if there is anybody out there not experiencing many of these same emotions and I, not surprisingly, have compiled a list.

  • Governor Mark Sanford (R. South Carolina) and Senator John Ensign (R. Nevada). These two men found themselves in the middle of a growing quagmire of family values hypocrisy last week before the King of Pop and the Pinup Girl knocked them off of the front pages. The Sanford story and his jaunt to Argentina is just so juicy that I am a bit stunned that it hasn't been more front and centre. The irony of both of these men being caught with their pants around their ankles after being at the forefront of the chorus condemning Clinton, is just too good to pass up. I believe that while the media frenzy surrounding pop culture is apparent and all-consuming at the moment, these two assholes will still have to publicly and fully answer for their sins.
  • Bernie Madoff. On the very day of the deaths, the King of Scheme was in court begging for mercy and it barely caused a ripple. The justice is that today Bernie the Bunko artist was sentenced to the maximum for his crimes and his double-dealing mug is being splashed all over every TV set and computer in the world. Bye-bye Bernie. Maybe you catch up on your reading.
  • Jon and Kate Gosselin. Manufactured celebrities are not usually my style, but I will confess that in the early days of TLC I did watch these people. I was taken with the children and the organization it took to deal with 8 kids under the age of 3. The break-up of any marriage is incredibly sad, but all the more so when it is experience in public. These people have dominated press coverage for weeks and, what's worse they seemed to have lapped it up like hungry puppies. Last Thursday the world finally stopped caring what a sad couple in Pennsylvania thought about anything. The kids must be thrilled that the paparazzi have turned their lenses elsewhere.

I would have thought that the media would have learned their lessons about over-covering a pop culture story with its coverage of OJ, Princess Diana, Anna Nicole, and the like. I was obviously wrong and I am totally convinced that the worst is yet to come. This weekend on some CNN program, a hack from Access Hollywood was asked if it is the media's job to report on the story or to generate the story. Not surprisingly he responded that as long as people are interested, they have a responsibility to continue with their coverage. Funny! I always thought that they should simply relay the news and not become the news. How wrong I was!

1 comment:

  1. I certainly agree with you that the the wall-to-wall coverage of MJ, Farrah Fawcett, the Goslins et. al. is appalling. Yesterday, I was watching Meet the Press, and the host asked David Axelrod, Obama's chief political strategist, a stinging series of questions about how a particular news conference was conducted. Not, mind you, about the content of the newser - just the way Obama chose whom to call on. So inside baseball that it hurts.

    Next to celebrities, the media's favourite topic is themselves. Thus it has always been.

    That said, I would offer a slightly different - albeit somewhat tainted - view on one point. The media cover celebrities because people are interested in this type of gossip. If no one cared, you can bet they wouldn't go on reporting it this way for very long.