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Do We Really Care About This Stuff?
July 3, 2008 - John Whittaker
Even though I'm a member of the "media," there are times I hate the business we're in.
A story on ESPN.com - and that I found on the AP wire, too - is just one more example of those times.
Three or four stories down on ESPN.com is this item: Report: Arod, Wife Splitting Up After Four Years.
I don't doubt the item's veracity. It's probably true. But, truthfully, I don't care. I just don't give a rat's patootie (not my chosen word, but we are a family paper, though I pity any child who reads this blog and starts thinking like me!).
Why is this news?
Here's a short list of the actual news items that get no play in much of the media -- finding a cure for childhood cancer, finding actual alternative energy, a cure for male pattern baldness, the gradual dumbing down of America, divorce rates, the effect of all of this stuff on kids, improving national defense, a cure for male pattern baldness, how inflation and a stagnant economy are hurting poor people, why they can't find a cure for male pattern baldness (I told you this was a big issue for me!), finding ways for municipalities across the country to keep taxes low so businesses and people can afford to live, keeping enough jobs in the United States to keep our citizens employed and able to chase the American dream, a cure for male pattern baldness, what does it take to get a fair shake in the justice system, a cure for male pattern baldness.
You get the point.
Yet, we have news agencies that feel that Alex Rodriguez, who, while rich beyond anyone but Bill Gates' wildest imagination, is only a baseball player. An athlete.
Not that he's the only one.
Anybody know what Britney Spears did yesterday? It's easy to find out - just go on the Internet and google Britney Spears. At this point, it would be news if she went a week without doing something stupid. I say, let's give her a gold star at the end of every day she doesn't make the news. Wouldn't that be a little healthier for everyone involved?
Who can forget the media blitz surrounding the death of Anna Nicole Smith? Or anything in the past year involving Lindsey Lohan? How about Rosie O'Donnell and the flap over her stint on The View? It takes Larry Craig being charged with lewd conduct for him to make the news - and he's a Congressman, for crying out loud.
Think about it. What did any of those people do to deserve our attention? What have they contributed to our society? Do they give any of their millions back to society? Do they help people at all? No. We cover them for being crazy, or stupid, or just plain rude and annoying, or breaking the law, or their sexual orientation, or for breathing.
I guess I just don't understand why scandal and celebrity news sells the way it does. Last time I checked, celebrities put their pants on the same way we do, breathe the same air we do, are people just like us. Why are their lives so interesting when the woman who volunteers 60 hours a week at her church and soup kitchen in Jamestown, who gave a stranger a ride in the rain, can't get a headline?
John F. Kennedy had women in and out of the White House non-stop just about every day, and the media didn't say a word. Nobody wrote about a president who had polio and couldn't walk. My god, how many times would Lyndon Johnson have been sued for harassment if he was president today? But, the press acted, if not far too leniently, at least somewhat responsibly.
It's funny how often, now, the media finds something out , that jucy little nugget, and, without thinking about repercussions, just runs the story. We've caught ourselves in similar situations here, and I'd like to think we're learning some restraint.
I love the First Amendment. It has provided me with the protection to do a job I love for the last 11 years. But, I find it funny how everyone forgets about the right to privacy - to go through a divorce with some privacy, for example.
It's an awesome power we, the media, wield every day. Reading crap stories like ESPN.com's take on Alex Rodriguez' personal life is just one reminder of that responsibility.
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To Alex: Thanks for half of that $252 million. It's been fun! Sincerely, Your Ex-Wife