Monday, June 29, 2009

Michael Jackson StarImage via Wikipedia

Pop quiz:

What couple are getting a divorce and how many children do they have?
Name one of the products that Billy Mays sold.
Who has custody of Michael Jackson's children?

(Answers: Jon & Kate, 8 children, Oxy-Clean, and Jackson's mother).

Real answer: Why do we care about these things?

There are several other important events going on in the world yet our American media chooses to fill most of our 24 hour news networks with telling us about these pop culture tidbits.

I love pop culture, but I see a major damage to our culture by how much attention our NEWS sources pay to these items. Is 24 hour coverage of Michael Jackson postmortem with intermittent updates on how Billy Mays died more important than any of the other news items that have come across in the past few days?

Honduras is experiencing a military coup and their congress has selected a new president. Can we even name either the overthrown president or the newly named president?

The U.S. Supreme Court decided on a case, but if we were not in a class that discusses race and/or were not journalism students, would we have even known about this ruling?

In my opinion, it is the creation and dependence of a constant source of information that has caused the need to find such filler. In the past, broadcast news was available at only certain types of the day. Magazine shows did not exist and the 24-hour news station had not been invented, so the amount of news that could be provided each day was limited to the most important news of the day, news that was pertinent to people's knowledge and daily lives. Although I enjoy the ability to have instant access to news and information, I'm not convinced that we are truly getting the best information. If anything, the advent of the 24-hour news networks signaled the death of concise news reporting.

The majority of information we receive is unnecessary. I don't care to watch hour upon hour of coverage about the life of Michael Jackson. At the least, I find it hypocritical that the man they had bashed and labeled as "Wacko Jacko" is now to be endeared into our cultural history and the bad parts are glossed over by the media. At the most, I find it insulting to the American public that the producers and editors feel that this is the most important news of the day. I'm honestly tired of talking and hearing about Michael Jackson. I can understand and appreciate his contributions to pop culture, music, and dance, but I can't understand the constant coverage.

On this same weekend, the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots were celebrated across the country. June 28, 1969 is not even a date that most history books, unless you are in a more "liberal" college class (like my History of Journalism was), yet it signals the time that the gay and lesbian movement really took ground. Some media will cover pride events (the yearly memorial marches of the Stonewall Riots), show the more extreme sides of the LGBT community (this is a topic for another blog) and move on. But when police raids eerily reminiscent of those that started the Stonewall Riots occur in Ft. Worth this past weekend, it is hardly mentioned in most news sources.

The priorities of our "news" sources have become disoriented. It is no longer the events of the day that affect our actual lives that are the most important on the channels. Our news has become a combination of opinionated talking heads and pop culture tidbits with not much true hard hitting journalistic action.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


  1. I agree Kevin. the things that matter the most, like knowing about world coups and the leaders of countries, is all but forgotten in our backwards model of broadcast news.

    Where pop entertainment comes first, because it sells.

  2. Good post Kevin. I couldn’t agree more. I think the news networks are forgetting that we already have stations like E! and Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood … I don’t have a problem with them covering what happened with the celebrities, I think they should. But the repeated coverage and the fact that the Michael Jackson death is trumping many other important events in the world isn’t right.

    But at the same time, how does the situation in Honduras affect me? It doesn’t. The MJ story affects me more than most of the other stuff that should have been more heavily reported on. But it should all still be reported. Just because it doesn’t affect me doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be an informed citizen.

  3. It could be argued that as a citizen of the world we should all be informed on the goings on in the world on the political stage. I'm embarrassed that I don't know more about international politics and even more embarrassed that I often have to look up where exactly countries are.