Media’s Myopic Vision Could Be Its Downfall
Media that fails to enlighten beyond the obvious, as witnessed by the pervasive Michael Jackson and Sarah Palin coverage earlier this week, is constructing its own demise.
On the day of Jackson’s public memorial and Palin’s post-resignation citing in waders near the Arctic Circle, consumers were hard-pressed to bump into details about much else on television and even on the Internet without initiating their own deeper dig. The rules of persona worship were in full force.
Some news organizations reached beyond the obvious to point out this has become the worst week for casualties in the US military Afghan surge attacks, thousands were killed and injured in China’s street protests, the Russian people never heard President Obama’s remarks interpreted into their Mother tongue during his visit there, and the economic recovery is unequivocally postponed until further notice. But, generally speaking, who knew?
The challenge earlier this week was to get the collective media to focus on anything but the steady-drip about Jackson and Palin. Failing that was proof that more media in the virtual age is not necessarily better and that the rules for the easy way to attract eyeballs still prevail. Some astutely argue that the media’s narrow definition of what is news worthy of coverage on any given day is an exercise in narcissism that is contributing to the destruction of an informative press and an informed public.
Granted, some of this is a Catch-22: feeding consumers ‘ voracious appetite for personality-centric information and photos must be part of any media’s survival formula. But, how much responsibility is exercised by media outlets in all their diverse forms to broaden and sensitize public awareness of significant domestic and world developments?
Who and what sets the bar for news coverage?
Balancing the public need and right to know, taking a simple-minded or more sophisticated approach to reporting and analysis, and generally taking the low or the high road are topics as complex as they are controversial. Such salient points will continue to be debated and probed mostly on special interest blogs.
But we may well be approaching a critical point in time when mass awareness has a firm grip on mass response; when the torrent of news headlines, posts and pictures that pour over the general public fashions the overriding response of people to help themselves, their community and the world because they are in-tune with so much more than a myopic vision that pivots on personality rather than civic relevance.
The serious and complicated facets of the ongoing financial crisis will continue to adversely impact all consumers and businesses for the next decade, and is a complete antithesis to the recent life we have known. The significant nuances of the situation are within our grasp depending upon how writers and editors choose to explore the topic.
Many believe that simple-minded media must not prevail if a country and its citizens are to survive this paralyzing crisis and once again thrive. Leaving the general media to police itself is the only way in a country rooted in Freedom of Speech rights — but it doesn’t appear to be working even as media has become more expansive, taking into account blogs and web sites pages deep.
While the Long tail of information and insight is rich and limitless, but does not serve the general public. Consumers are not conditioned to look much further than the first glance of headlines and lines of writing for their news, even though the Internet incredibly arms them to do otherwise.
So, are informed citizens choice or chance?
What do you think?