16 July 2009

Bypassing Journalism...

Yesterday morning I was listening to CNN with interest as it took a break from its continuing "Michael Jackson is still dead" coverage and reported that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was delivering a "major foreign policy speech" to the Council of Foreign Relations that afternoon.

My first instinct was to ask "What is she going to say?"

I don't remember hearing an answer to that question in the story. I did hear that President Obama has already given a bunch of major speeches on foreign policy and that this must mean that people in the White House are trying to marginalize Secretary Clinton's influence and don't you know they're rivals and don't really trust each other and gossip gossip gossip. Maybe they covered the guts of the speech later that day - I have no idea. I do know they reported on another video of Michael Jackson's hair on fire in 1984.

This is the kind of thing that drives me nuts. I'm sure that Obama v. Clinton story is catchy, but it's not news, at least to me. It's gossip - and frankly, it's not the least bit surprising that a new President would make major policy speeches when there's a change of direction in policy. It's pretty much what you do.

Thankfully, social media tools let you bypass this gossip and get to the actual source. I've heard a lot of talk lately about the death of the news "business model" and the frustration so many journalists have over "crazy bloggers" drawing attention away from their serious journalism.

When I watch CNN I want news. Often times CNN gives it to me. But if they're going to make the editorial decision that video of a dead pop star's hair catching fire 25 years ago deserves to be in "heavy rotation," I'm going to turn off CNN and get the news myself. Yes, CNN is covering real stories like the confirmation hearings for Judge Sotomayor, but shouldn't that be the top story?

Maybe as we focus on journalism's business model we should also focus on the product.

In case you're wondering, here's the speech Secretary Clinton gave. She's smart.


Ann Marie said...


You are so right.

There is so much important situations out there affecting us as a nation and it is disconcerting the focus on fluff... fluff feels better temporary, but doesn't help in the long run.

Gossip deflects from the real issues. The US foreign policy is in shambles and the image aboard is tarnished. Efforts are being made to right the course.

Mocha said...

I remember when I was little and my parents watched the news. We all had to be quiet because The News was on tv and they had to listen. On the off chance that I would sit and watch it with them I was bored out of my mind and wanted to watch cartoons instead. That was, at least, amusing. The News was BORING. As I grew older and we had family discussions of what we were seeing on The News and issues of community, geography, and social responsibility came into play here.

When the news is on tv now and my kids are in the room they are actually sort of interested and don't have to feign their boredom. Why is that? Because it's all entertainment now. It's sensationalism.

I read blogs for the entertainment value and have happened to have created a list of amazingly smart writers who make me laugh and stay connected to the larger social issues.

It's weird to have all these thoughts with the passing of Walter Cronkite. I'm all wistful now.

Gossip vs. news. Excellent topic. But to be honest, I learn of real news sometimes in my social media. It's just that it doesn't end there.

Thanks for making me think so much this morning!

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