This I Believe

Jill - Buffalo, New York
Entered on March 27, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

“Salacious News Media Simply Meets our Demands”

Another week has gone by in our hyper media infused society, and the inundation of Anna Nicole Smith continues. What once would’ve been considered tabloid fodder only, and worthy of just a passing glance while in the checkout aisle at Wegmans, has truly grown into big news for our “hard news journalists” and their forums. From CNN to ABC to the near-nightly Larry King reports, we are barraged with the daily updates of this woman’s death, the courtroom saga that entangles her ex lovers and an estranged mother, and the ensuing custody battle for her baby girl.

Of course, it’s not just the Anna Nicole story that has squirmed its way from the margins of our media to the headlines of the day. Also demanding our attention are stories of a young pop singer who has “gone crazy,” an actress who has arranged an international adoption, and a name calling fight between a billionaire and talk show host who just can’t seem to get along.

It’s all so absurd and so very sad.

Sure, the easy thing to do is blame the media. Why are they throwing this junk at us? Where are the editors? Where is the professional discernment of our journalists? Why not focus on the real news of the day?

Perhaps the harder thing to do is ask the questions of ourselves. What is the demand that they’re meeting? What is it about us as a readership and a society that not only “invites” but “demands” these stories into our headlines?

The news media of 2007 seems to be run like every other business in the world – fueled by supply and demand and riding the road of the bottom line. Unlike days past when broadcast news took on the guise of half hour nightly programs on three network stations, audiences now have almost unlimited choice of where they get their news. From multiple twenty-four hour news networks to the vast world of the internet, we as a viewership can select our headlines buffet style, and we seem to be selecting all of the junk food. The news media now has to “compete” for our patronage, and in true capitalist spirit, have recognized our diet trends and have answered by giving us more of what we want – more of the salacious, less of the important stuff. Less salad, more chicken wings.

It’s more than just the age-old idea that “sex sells.” We are feasting on the missteps of public figures to fulfill a dire hunger to feel better about ourselves. Little plates of self righteousness, is what we seem to be buying, and I believe the price that we pay for it is, and will be, greater than most of us can recognize.