Monday, March 08, 2004

News That Isn't

It really irks me when the TV press runs news stories over and over on stuff that just isn't, well, news. Lately, this has included:

  • Martha Stewart's trial
    Yeah, ok, maybe this does deserve some coverage, she's a big, famous celebrity. But we really don't need minute-to-minute coverage. She shouldn't have lied to investigators, yes. And she should be punished for doing so. But it's just not as big of a deal as the press is making it out to be.
    • Enron: $60,000,000,000 of shareholder value lost
    • Worldcom: $50,000,000,000 possible goodwill damage
    • NYSE: $155,000,000 cost to investigators from NYSE failure to stop improper trading.
    • Martha Stewart: $240,000 in improper trades

    Think about the scale of the different here. For every dollar Martha made on her ImClone trade, Enron shareholders lost two hundred and fifty THOUSAND dollars. Holy crap.

    And remember, Martha was never indicted for insider trading, just for lying after the fact to investigators

  • Howard Dean
    No, not his policies, the press never covered that. Policy is boring. Soundbites and short, 10-seconds clips are "newsworthy." A guy has one undignified moment on TV, and it's played non-stop on the airwaves.
  • Laci and Scott Peterson
    Yeah, this is sad. It's tragic. And if he's guilty, he deserves to be sent to prison for a long, long time. But it's not the only murder that's happened in this country in the past year. Would we be seeing this much coverage if Laci hadn't been pregnant? Or if she hadn't been pretty and white?

The problem is that news coverage and tabloid coverage are converging. CNN, etc. are covering the stories that make for sexy, easy, and photogenic coverage. Think about it, we're coming up to a Presidential election right after coming out of a war. (And whether we're out of the war is even debatable.) When was the last time you actually saw a comparison of the candidates' stands on any of the serious issues? Not a panel show with the usual arch-conservative and liberal talking heads. (Or in the case of FoxNews, arch-conservatives and moderates.) I can't think of one.

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