Media Trash and the most trusted name in news

Two hours of Paris Hilton on “the most trusted
name in news?”

I wasn’t surprised that U.S. media didn’t cover the partnership agreement between UMCOR and Muslim Aid. In this day of division and religious fanaticism two moderate groups, one from the third largest denomination in the U.S. and the other serving Muslims of all theological positions, carrying out peace-making isn’t news, at least not when you’ve got Paris Hilton getting out of jail.

I was pleased that BBC World Service television gave the story ten minutes including a live interview segment. Reuters and AP Radio in London also picked it up. This coverage happened concurrently with the Wimbledon tourney, a major rock music festival, the worst flooding in northern England since record-keeping began, the day before Tony Blair left office, and Paris Hilton’s release from jail.

I’ve come reluctantly to accept that TV news in the U.S. is mostly innane headlines and soundbites. I came to this reluctantly because I remember when it was much more, and frankly, I’ve hoped for more. But standards began to slide long ago, and to hope for significant change is to misplace psychic energy. It ain’t going to happen.

Fortunately, religious media serving both Christian and Muslim audiences covered the story broadly and through these media people were informed.

In an interesting turn, Janice Min, editor of Us Weekly, a celebrity magazine, provides an explanation in Slate about why her magazine didn’t do a story on Hilton. (She perceived readers were running for cover to avoid yet another Hilton story. She was reflecting reader interests, she writes.)

Min notes that CNN stretched coverage of Hilton’s release to two hours in its prime time evening lineup, and this on a day when the Senate issued subpoenas to the White House, Justice Department, Vice-President and National Security Council in the investigation of wiretapping and politicizing Justice Department appointments. It does make you wonder about the priorities of “the most trusted name in news,” doesn’t it?

I find myself paying less attention to television news. There are alternatives in print and on line. And guess what? I haven’t missed a thing. And I’ve freed up a bit of time for more useful pursuits.

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