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To the Media: What’s the Big Deal!?

MSM goes wide – Today’s post is designed to highlight current news stories that miss the mark. The mainstream media’s news coverage too often ignores the real news in favor of the easy stories, the conflict driven win/lose stories, or so-called balanced, unbiased stories. Here are examples of information that should not qualify as responsible journalism and why:

  • Who’s ahead in the race headline: “With Election Driven by Iraq, Voters Want New Approach” – Adam Nagourney and Megan Thee co-wrote this “horserace” story for the New York Times. I suppose I should be happy about it beacuse it is good news for the Democrats. But stories about who is ahead before an election are too easy. I feel they wrongly affect the eventual election outcomes. I would much prefer more substantial investigative reporting about issues, candidates’ records, or how a cast vote might impact the voters’ lives. The story explains,

    . . . Even beyond the war, the Times/CBS News poll, like most other polls this fall, contained worrisome indicators for Republicans as they go into the final days of a campaign in which many are bracing for a loss of seats in both the House and the Senate.

    In a year when there are many close races, Democrats were more enthusiastic than Republicans about voting and more likely to say they would support their party’s candidates, although Republicans were slightly more likely to say they would actually vote.

  • Who has the power headline: “List Ranks Lawmakers From Mighty to Minor” – Elizabeth Wiliamson reports for the Washington Post. The lobbying firm looks only at power-wielding in its most primitive form. Senator Frist and Speaker Hastert earned “first places,” for example, despite dismal legislative records. The ranking makes no judgement about the legislators’ quality of leadership. The lobbying firm missed the point as far as what their elections accomplished for those who elected them. Quoting from Williamson’s article,

    After a year spent snuffling through paper and hyperbole, a lobbying research firm has unveiled the 2006 Power Rankings, a list of who holds — at least for the next week — the real clout in Congress.
    The list appears in full on http://www.congress.org . It contains plenty of brand names and some surprising shifts, too, thanks to the 20 less-than-obvious factors that determine who lands where.
    . . . Of course, all this power and powerlessness could change hands after Nov. 7. The rankings’ creators promise a new list early next year, once the dust settles on committee assignments and criminal investigations.

  • Who looks bad right now headline: “Kerry sorry for “botched joke” – John Whitesides, writing for Reuters, apparently completely absolves the Republicans of any responsibility for knowingly taking Kerry’s verbal mistake out of context. His mistake was inadvertant; theirs was on purpose. In doing so they made it even worse for our soldiers by lying about Kerry’s motivations.

    Democratic Sen. John Kerry apologized directly to U.S. troops on Wednesday for comments about Iraq that prompted a firestorm of Republican criticism in the final days of a bitter congressional election campaign.
    . . . Kerry later said his remarks were aimed at President George W. Bush and his Iraq policies, not the military. Republicans, who had blanketed Kerry with criticism for the past 36 hours, accepted his apology.

MSM goes shallow – Where’s the big deal? Many of us tire of endless celebrity news, shock-value stories, or “who cares” stories. The following stories are non-stories. These headlined articles should never have risen to “lead” status.

  • Subtle sexism survives headline – “Opponent denies knocking Sen. Clinton’s looks” – the writer: Mark Preston for CNN.com.
  • Subject (doesn’t fit the mag’s reputation) headline – “In Iowa, Tongue Piercings Decline in Popularity” – amazing that this is in the U.S. News and World Report
  • Yuch! Too-Much-Information headline – “Officials probe finger-in-sandwich claim” – TMI from Yahoo! News
  • Ho-hum (Keith) headline – “Urban enters rehab for alcohol abuse” – another celebrity surprise from Yahoo! News

The Fourth Estate: Perhaps the blogosphere can be one of the conscience elements for the mainstream media, since we are among their original sources. I say to the MSM collectively, the nation needs you to not always take the easy way out. Don’t forget you are included in the main part of the constitution. Go against your corporate bosses’ economic interest. Don’t be fair and balanced when the issue is clearly one-sided. Don’t always follow the herd to the current buzz. Don’t let logic be your enemy. Don’t fail to include the (checked) facts.

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