The Bland New Days

29 Aug ’06

Rafe Mair vents in the Tyee on the uselessness of much news media:

The media has been defanged because it is controlled by men who have reasons to be nice to government. … Blandness rules the airwaves and print. This means the public is less well informed and government can pretty well do as they please.

Jeff Jarvis vents (“News Schmucks”) in a similar vein on the asinine fascination of CNN and its wannabe’s for the latest JonBenet tabloid fodder (honestly, do Lou Dobbs, and his eager army of reporters anxious to get Lou-approved, really have nothing more important to do than kick poverty-stricken Mexicans in the stomach and pander to middle American xenophobia?). Rex Hammock ditto.

Far too often now, MSM news is nothing more than an adjunct to the hamburger, deodorant and celebrity news delivery systems that their parent mediaco’s have become. And each time I see David Straitharn’s exquisite performance of Edward R. Murrow’s cautionary speech at the 1958 Radio and Television News Directors Association convention dinner, I feel even queasier about what lies ahead for TV news.

Mair concludes by noting that “Online papers such as this one are the bastions of free speech — free speech unfettered by owners’ rules or the need to self-censor.” I hope that’s true, but the history to date of online independent news seems mixed to me. And I’m growing ever more doubtful (see Mark’s comment, especially) that the ‘sphere has much to contribute. Can it be that, when all is said and done, the audience isn’t really listening?

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