Friday, August 13, 2004

The Travesty of the News Media

It's no wonder that the citizens of our nation are ignorantly detached from the political process--there is apathy among plain floks, because they are not inspired to be anything more than plain.

Todays's edition of the Akron Beacon Journal, my local newspaper, featured on the front page a large color picture of a scene from Athens with the imbedded words "Chariot races just what Olympics need", with the larger headline "Old-school event would be a big hit" below( ). A Becaon Journal staff writer expatitates for several paragraphs (continued on page A15) on his opinion that adding chariot races to the Olympic schedule would be, well, pretty cool. Now, I can't say I disagree with the man--as he points out, "[y]ou didn't see Charlton Heston doing the triple jump in Ben Hur"--but I thought a newspaper was supposed to, well, have news. Akron is a blue-collar town, and consequently many Akronites rely on the Beacon as their sole news source, their sole window into the world of domestic and international affairs. How are they supposed to have informed opinions of the world and take an active role in their democracy when they acclimated to a society that values wit over wisdom, individual citizens over citizenship, human interest over humanity?

I'm not saying we shouldn't care about the Olympics--indeed, it forms a part of the history of our civilization and is a hallmark achievement of the modern world in that so many sovereign nations can come together for the pursuit of excellence in the sphere of athletics. Granting that the opening ceremonies of the Olympics makes for important news, and even granting that it should be conferred the honor of being covered on the front page, what the Beacon panders to its subscribers has nothing to do with what the Olympics is all about.

I, a regular reader of the New York Times who for the month of August must, due to a short sojoun at home, deal with this rag that is delivered daily to my door, was appalled; my mother, who has read the Beacon all her life, while conceding my point that the article, strictly speaking, wasn't news, could not grasp the vehemence of my opposition: she knows no other type of journalism and so cannot adequately assess the quality of her news source. My mother, I should point out, is a college professor. She nonetheless is ignorant of much of what goes on in the world, not because she is apathetic, but rather because she is not presented with the facts in such as manner so as to rouse her to an active state of engagement.

I call on journalists everywhere to develop a sense of duty and adhere to higher standards of quality within their profession. News-that-isn't-news sells papers, but the newspaper business in our nation should not be a business without a moral conscience. And they wonder why nobody cares.


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