Being a Drama Queen is Exhausting

Or: Why I Can't Get My Panties in a Big Bunch About the Media Anymore

Oh My Fucking God.

I'm spelling that out rather than short-forming it because I believe it's time for a great big slap up the sides of the heads of everyone I know.

I'm sorry -- the entire MSM (which now, apparently, also includes PBS and NPR) needs a graduation ceremony.

So does everyone who is reading/listening to/ or otherwise paying attention to the "pundits", "commentators", and "anchor-folk".

Eighth grade is OVER, people!

I think it's telling that I don't feel inclined to even cite any examples. I can make the sweeping statement that the 99.9% of Main-Stream Media is utterly ridiculous and sophomoric and has NOTHING to do with any real "news" -- and you'll probably be nodding at your computer, going "Yep!".

I want some real journalism -- you know -- things like fact-checking, and integrity, and the Fairness Doctrine, and accountability, and real insights, and thoughtful commentary -- just little things like that.

In my humble opinion, the MSM suffers from the same malady as the Health Care system in our country -- it's too tightly bound to the bottom line.

So it is that I get the majority of my news and cultural insights from citizen bloggers.

True, much of their commentary concerns the MSM, and many of the "seeds" of their stories are derived from traditional newscasts -- but I find that the bloggers that I enjoy reading, in the main, take pains to research their facts, dig into the larger contexts of a newsbyte, and that they present their personal opinions clearly as just that -- personal opinions, rather than sweeping pronouncements of "The Way It Is Everywhere, For Everyone, For All Time" (I think it used to be called "humility" or "sense of proportion").

I wouldn't be so bitchy about the MSM if they didn't go around claiming shit like "All the News That's Fit To Print", and "Fair and Balanced", and "Your ONLY News for Eastern Washington", etc..

I mean, they could try out some mottoes like: "Stuff We Suspect Is True", or "What Our Sponsors Want You to Think About the World" or "White Guys Going On and On, with a Couple of Women and People of Color Thrown In, just for the Bling" -- hell, I'd even settle for "News Channel 5: Your Best Source For Mind-Control". At least that would get into general vicinity of "honest and fair".

One of the reasons that I'm not the type of blogger who pumps out a lot of posts every day (especially about politics and/or social issues) is that I figure that I bear a responsibility for my words. I have the sense that if something is worth communicating about, it's also worth putting some thought into it, and some time into researching any facts which may be attendant to it. (It's true -- I rant occasionally, but that's ranting, and I try to be honest about it and own it when I do it.)

I love the internet -- its accessibility, its variety, and its speed -- but I think that the speed of information transferral has had a detrimental effect on the quality (Ha! What quality?) of journalism in the MSM. I think that newscasters count on the fact that media consumers are so busy trying to keep up with the news-cycle that they will forget, tomorrow, what was said today.

So, three major problems with the way that most Americans get their "news": 1) Conglomerates that are monopolies, or near monopolies (no real diversity), 2) The need to bow to commercial pressures, and 3) Short-term institutional memory, and no journalistic integrity ethic in most journalists.

On my more idealistic and energetic days, I dream of creating an entirely separate media source -- one in which EVERY participating journalist has be licensed and take an oath to which they are legally bound and liable -- like the Hippocratic Oath-- that they are first and foremost to serve the public's need for accurate, complete, and factual information -- and that this priority comes before money, before political or commercial pressure, and before self-promotion.

There could be an entirely separate media source for ranting that was owned as ranting, and pure opinion stated as pure opinion (hint: It used to be called the Editorial Page).

And if the licensed journalists break their oath, they don't just lose their job -- they pay fines, and lose their license to broadcast, and are listed in the "Loss of Credibility" database.

I know, I know -- freedom of speech -- but really, if you are claiming to inform the public, shouldn't you have liability when you deliberately falsify information? Plumbers, carpenters, therapists, dry-cleaners, etc., etc., etc. are all liable for truth-in-advertising -- so if you're claiming to do factual reporting, shouldn't you have to back up that claim?

I can count on one hand the number of people who I consider "real journalists" who make the front page and the top story in the MSM on a daily basis.

The rest, in my opinion, are a bunch of Drama Queens -- constantly seeking the next punchy headline, the next sensational story, the next "draw" so that advertisers get paid -- blecch!

Being a Drama Queen is exhausting -- for the DQ and for the innocent bystanders who are asked to get wrought-up over every damn story (whether it's really a story or not).

I want a resurgence of real journalism. I want the integrity of some of the bloggers I know (who do what they do every day mostly with no remuneration whatsoever) to become the regulated standard of the broadcast and print news industry.

Anymore, every time I hear of some new and fantastically horrific episode in the MSM, I find myself thinking: "Well what else would you expect?"

I think we have a right to expect more.

Posted byPortlyDyke at 2:00 PM  

3 comments:

pidomon said... February 3, 2008 at 5:36 AM  

I dont think the MSM is about the spreading of information anymore but is more about diverting "we teh sheeple" from whats really happening so our corporate overlords can continue to pillage our country as they see fit.

But then again I'm an optimist :)

Sarah J said... February 3, 2008 at 8:02 AM  

Amen.

I'm in the process of getting a master's in journalism. which can be depressing at times. though it helps that most of my professors share the same contempt for the mainstream media, and do try to instill into us a respect for actual FACTS and fact-checking, and accuracy rather than balance. Just printing "both sides of the story" is not journalism.

What we need is a massive publicly funded news source like the BBC. I still get most of my news from NPR because it's usually better than most, although I think they tend to fall into the pack journalism trap often enough to warrant some ranting (and the occasional sharp email).

But seriously. Journalism is too serious a business to be left to corporate monopolies trying to squeeze every last drop of profit out of the infotainment they can foist off on America.

The Cunning Runt said... February 6, 2008 at 4:08 PM  

Well said, PD, and as usual. Besides the hourly dropping of the ball and missing of the point, the M$M routinely distract, obfuscate and outright lie to make a buck.

And they choose our Presidents for us.

Your suggested "fix" sounds worthy of further exploration and refinement (committee of Bloggers, anyone?), followed by WIDE dissemination in the form of a petition/letter campaign to lawmakers nationwide.

Now look what you started!!

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