Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Complaint and Advice to Journalists

Physician, Heal Thyself. (Luke 4:23)
Know Thyself. (Temple of Apollo)
We Have Met the Enemy, and He is Us (Pogo)

I am deaf to the complaint that one should not blame the messenger, since in this case, the messenger has a great deal to do with what actually gets printed or broadcast.

Imagine two scenarios at a town meeting on health care legislation:

1. A penetrating  question is quietly asked  by a knowledgeable citizen and given a reasonable answer by a member of Congress to light applause.

2. A loud, cliche-ridden question revealing mostly ignorance is raised by a fist-shaking voter to the cheers of a raucous crowd shouting and displaying all the ugly slogans so prevalent.

Which will get the most attention by journalists?

Why? Because selection of stories is not necessarily based on newsworthiness or general significance but on what will improve ratings or readership. High ratings mean ad revenue which means high profits -- the driving force. It's the American way! Hooray for free market capitalism.

This analysis is confirmed by E. J. Dionne in The Washington Post of September 3:


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