I've had it. Normally, I spend my day at my desk, with a computer screen and a TV staring at me. I write, edit, program, correspond, all while listening to the news-- usually CNN or MSNBC-- ocassionally, to see how the garbage is being presented by the whitehouse propaganda network, I'll even switch to Fox News, until the stink reaches intolerable proportions-- usually less than five minutes.
This past week, all the stations have been intolerable. At a time when the Iraq disaster is getting far worse, when corruption is coming out so fast that Bushco's whack-a-mole cover-ups have not been able to keep up, our national media go psycho bonkers on covering the VA Tech massacre, filling in gaps with Anna Nicole's baby and the NASA nut.
Sure enough, copycat activity began appearing around the country. And it's not over yet. NBC/MSNBC in a hand-wringing sort of way covered their own coverage of the Cho story and their release of the lurid, nutcase videos that the killer sent them. They tried to explain that it was okay because all the other media used the same footage. I didn't buy it. They pulled their top ratings with it, but who knows how many months or years it will be before some sick kid, maybe who's just had his antidepressant dosage upped, which makes him crazy, will go out into a busy campus with a fully automatic weapon he picked up, courtesy of the NRA?
NBC, Fox, CNN, will surely spend days covering that event too. Will they discuss the possibility that their beyond saturation coverage of CHo could have planted the seed for this next massacre? I don't think so. But then again, you never know-- the hubris of the network news management is getting worse and worse. After all, before the Cho-splosion, there was the total and ongoing waste of the airwave on the Simpson death/suicide/murder-- whatever it was-- I don't care.
We have to face the facts. It's not just bad programming that drives the news networks to run marathon coverage of murders, kidnappings and celebrity nonsense. It's a way to NOT cover news that should be featured.
I am not calling for censorship. I am calling for some basic rules. The lamestream media are more and more becoming obsessive in their news coverage, wasting far too large a percentage of the news day covering the minutae of whatever one or two stories they think are most important, neglecting countless other, important, many times more important stories.
The lamestream media have increasingly shortened the length of sound bites and interviews, so no intelligent, thought out statement can even be uttered by a newsworthy person. We get dumbed down sound bites. It's not that they don't have the air time. They just believe that the public wants shorter and shorter segments. I think this is having an affect on attention span. There's no wonder more and more kids are being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, with million prescribed stimulant medications.
We need rules that require that the media must spread news coverage over a wider range of stories, that it is not acceptable to invest 70%, 80% or more of the day, using the public's airwaves, covering just Anna Marie Simpson, Michael Jackson, the latest kidnapped or lost child, or the latest murder case.
The media are GIVEN our airwaves free. They have a responsibility to broadcast news coverage of what is happening in government, with legislation, with healthcare, the environment, human rights, the Iraq occupation...
The right wing's approach to the media has been to consolidate it, to destroy media diversity. That's a major reason there is no way to get decent news coverage anymore. The competition merged.
Once the left gets enough power, as in Whitehouse power, we should have a plan for how to fix the media. Here are some ideas:
-Establish criteria for use of the airwaves. There are too many garbage channels currently operating, wasting the precious airwaves-- 24 hour informercial networks, religious channels wasting airtime for a tiny listener base, subsidized by churches. Let them use cable or podcast or e-cast.
-Require free advertising time for qualified political candidates. The biggest cost for political campaigns, the reason money has too much power in politics, is TV and radio advertising costs. Make part of the price of licensing the airwaves in America, and that includes cable and satellite acces, provision of free ad time for political candidates. This will take billions out of the costs of running all the tens of thousands of campaigns in the US. Watch the news media declare war on this issue. Any candidate who supports it will surely be media-pilloried. But it is a great way to enable funding of candidates without taxpayers getting hit with the bill. The lamestream media will lose revenues, but it will not cost them a penny in outlay. Or maybe, the cost of politica advertising should be paid for by a tax on the media-- that the media pay.