Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Obsessing over Anna Nicole Smith in the US media

When news about Anna Nicole Smith's death first broke, I decided to continue my policy on keeping this blog Anna Nicole-free, along with my denial of over-hyped and frankly insignificant people like the dead JonBonet Ramsey and celebrities. However... An Anna Nicole Smith burial speculation story and look at demented teens bent on killing homeless people and smoking pot both outrank a story on US courts derelicting their duties by allowing what CNN calls “anti-terror laws” put in place by the Bush administration in its policies on enemy combatitants at GITMO. I'm actually not that surprised. Whilst channel surfing, which I don't often do, I noticed all three major cable news networks — CNN, Fox 'News', and MSNBC — all practically ignored important stories and focused on Anna Nicole Smith, including the tiny aspects of her legacy and death. Even when the topic was supposed to be serious matters like politics, science, or headlines these news networks felt it better to focus on celebrity. The likes of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears has also been a major focus, though they hold little significance in the real news. I am afraid the media is not doing its job. Every time any of these people gets a DYI or a different haircut, the mainstream news media is on top of the story with a vigor that used to be reserved only for tabloids.

People may want entertainment, but they have E! and People for that. One of the news media's many jobs is to have a balance between what people 'want' and what they 'need' to be informed in a civil society. So-called infotainment now rules supreme in the chambers of many American news organizations. Between much ineffectiveness over reporting and analyzing fairly US politics — especially caving into Bush's rhetoric on the 'war on terror' — and the rise of pointless information stories and unsourced bias, the state of the US news media: poor. They have failed to give the people what they need; and their standing as one of the pillars of a free and democratic society is in shambles. There are also external problems for the media, like the Bush White House attacking them whenever a story critical, even factual, against the administration is published. Bush must have a warped idea of democracy. By the way, a Google search of "Anna Nicole Smith" returns 25,400,000 results. "Darfur" has less than one-fifth the results of that. It's not only the news media with their priorities mixed.

Read more at this great site on the American news media. See also On the Media and CJR Daily.

Feel free to send in your views on the news media — US and otherwise — as well as what you think of society's prioritization of issues and topics, how some less important issues get drastically less notice, and how celebrity news invasion has effected you. Personally, I find it hard to visit any major news site or go to any public place without seeing or hearing celebrity gibber-gabble.

More posts on the news establishment soon.

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