Saturday, July 11, 2009

Feeling justified

I'm feeling justified in my complaints about the lack of real journalism last week in the wake of Michael Jackson's death.

Jeffrey Brown hosted a panel discussion about the Michael Jackson media overkill called "The Missing Coverage" yesterday on NewsHour. Here's an mp3 of the discussion from the NewsHour page.

The evening of Jackson's death I sent NewsHour a "thank you" email (they solicited feedback from viewers via Twitter) for covering non-MJ that night unlike the other network news broadcasts. NewsHour covered the more important political and economic stories of the day.

The next day, NewsHour led with an interview with Quincy Jones about MJ, but then proceeded with another 50 minutes of real news coverage. I was fine with that, but apparently even that led many NewsHour viewers to write in with outrage that it would be their lead story (it was all the other networks covered that night as well).

The point one of the panelists makes is that the networks missed out on one of the most significant pieces of legislation ever to be passed in Congress (cap-and-trade), giving it zero coverage in favor of Michael Jackson. I pointed out several other stories that were missed in my original post.

Brown cites a survey that 2/3 of Americans thought the MJ coverage was "too much," yet ratings for the network news broadcasts were higher than they had been for a long time. So, Americans seem to only care about the news that is unimportant to them but admit that it's not really news.

The question it raises is: Should journalists shoot for ratings and higher ad revenue or be better filters and only report on what really affects Americans?

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