Friday, June 29, 2007

A Sad Week in Journalism

This week has been particularly disturbing to the purveyors of news. If you weren’t scared you should check for a pulse or, as I’m guessing is the case, pay more attention.

In response to the continued Rupert-Murdoch-takes-over-the-mediated-world-one-outlet-a-time summer tour, on Thursday morning, members of the Wall Street Journal’s editorial staff went on strike. Odds are you didn’t notice. The Thursday and Friday editions were brimming over with the day’s news. The half-day strike was meant to show the disappointment the authors of the independent paper had with the prospect of being sold into the fair and balanced family of News Corp.

I applaud their idea but regret their execution. If the members of the editorial staff wanted to make any kind of difference they needed to leave pages blank; angering readers and advertisers, and instilling fear in the current generation of the Bancroft family that the paper their parents and grandparents built would turn into nothing more than a politically-charged trash rag.

If that’s not enough we had two stories take up way too much of people’s time this week.

Paris Hilton is the bane of my existence. And Larry King should be ashamed. This man has interviewed thousands of people. Some of the most important figures of the 20th and 21st century spoke with Mr. King about the good, the bad and the meaningful issues that face our society. You can make the argument that Miss Hilton is a major figure in our current society, but please, Larry, leave those interviews to the wannabe journalists at Mtv, E! and Fox News.

Lastly, the amount of coverage the story of Chris Benoit – the professional wrestler that apparently killed his wife, child and self – is a little much for me. Don’t misinterpret this, three people died and that is both sad and terrible, but that CNN.com ran this story as the headline over Congressional subpoenas of the White House is absurd! I’m sorry that the lives of the Benoit family came to an early, tragic end. I’m sorry that an idol to young boys across this country is gone. I’m sorry the allegations of steroid use play perfectly into the Barry Bonds saga that will culminate with him hitting his 756th home run later this year. But with all that is going on in the world it also does not warrant Top Story status.

With each day the mediated “news” continues to trouble me as the line between hard and soft news grows increasingly blurry and terrifyingly hard to find.

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