Fwd: Happy Holidays-- and the media screwed up at the end of the year (once again)

A.C. Szul mack97 at EROLS.COM
Fri Dec 26 10:15:59 MST 1997

Walter Brasch wrote:
> for: Editorial Page Editor
> Wanderings, with Walt Brasch
> weeks of December 21-27, December 28-January 3, 1998
>                       An Unbalanced Media
>      The death of Jacques Cousteau rated a mug shot and a few
> sketchy lines. So did the deaths of John Denver, Jimmy Stewart,
> and Robert Mitchum.
>      Mother Teresa rated a larger mug shot.
>      Charles Kuralt, James Michener, Red Skelton, Harold Robbins,
> Ben Hogan, and Supreme Court justice William Brennan didn't even
> rate a mug shot.
>      Princess Diana got the cover and 10 inside color pages.
>      It wasn't the {italic} National Enquirer{end italic}, nor
> even {italic} People {end italic}. The Diana splash was the
> centerpiece of {italic} Newsweek{end italic}'s "Pictures of the
> Year" wrap-up, and its way of saying what it considered to be
> important in 1997.
>      "But we were doing a year in {italic} pictures{end italic},"
> {italic} Newsweek {end italic} editors might haughtily contend.
> "It was an international tragedy, and there were more dramatic
> pictures of the Princess than of anyone else."
>      That's one of the problems. The media--almost all of which
> pretend they don't use paparazzi--opened their pages to an almost
> unlimited collection of photos and in-depth stories, liberally
> sprinkled by speculation, rumor, innuendo, and hearsay. Here's a
> tip to editors--just because it's available doesn't mean you have
> to use it.
>      It's hard to believe that the {italic} Newsweek {end italic}
> editors didn't have in their own files photos of Michener and
> Kuralt, or that they couldn't easily acquire those pictures.
> Certainly, there might not be as many pictures of Brennan, one of
> the First Amendment's staunchest defenders, as there are of
> Diana, but there are pictures. They could easily have been more
> dramatic, more insightful than any of the Diana pictures. For
> almost two decades the media seem to have placed a higher value
> on the life of a storybook princess than for those who have
> committed their lives to helping society better understand and
> improve itself.
>      "But the people {italic} want {end italic} the Diana
> pictures," the editors might wail in the delusion they are giving
> the people what they want, thus abrogating their responsibility
> of reporting about all issues that affect the people to give them
> a balanced version of what they {italic} need{end italic}.
>      "Balance" is the other major problem in the "year-end" wrap-
> ups. {Italic} Newsweek {end italic} picked and chose what it
> thought was the "best." Among the photos in the "living" section,
> {italic} Newsweek {end italic} designed two-page spreads of boxer
> Evander Holyfield's chewed ear, George Bush skydiving, three
> Buddhist nuns testifying before Congress, the reconstruction of
> the TWA 747 that crashed off Long Island in Summer 1996, and one-
> page photos of dead 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey and barely-
> convicted Nanny Louise Woodward.
>      {Italic} Newsweek {end italic} did publish a two-page
> landscape of a flooded and burned out section of Grand Forks, N.
> D. But it could have published a couple of pictures showing
> people helping each other, or perhaps even one of the staff of
> the local newspaper working against flood and deadlines to
> publish every day. Those pictures, certainly, would be more
> representative of what happened than a portrait of water and
> buildings.
>      {Italic} Newsweek {end italic} ran only one photo of Bill
> Clinton. Of the photos that have been shot of the President, of
> which {italic} Newsweek {end italic} photographers shot
> thousands, the editors chose a picture of the President hobbled
> by a ripped knee tendon, and supported by members of his staff.
> It was a dramatic photo. But, there are other dramatic photos.
> {italic} Newsweek {end italic} like most media focus on the
> unusual, the different.
>      Guess what picture the media will publish should a football
> player who gains 250 yards in a game slips on the sidelines.
> Guess what picture will be used should one politician stifle just
> one yawn in all of his days in office.  Guess what picture the
> media will choose between a scientist in a lab who won the Nobel
> Prize--and the latest Baywatch Babe.
>      Two council members who disagree on an issue will get the
> bigger headlines over a unanimous vote since conflict drives
> editors. The police blotter feeds our newspapers with daily doses
> of crime stories. Watch the news, read the local newspaper and we
> believe we are completely a nation of violence.
>      The media need to balance their reporting about society to
> make sure the public gets enough information that it can better
> understand our society and {italic} all {end italic} of its
> contributors, not just the deeds of criminals, the weird and
> unusual, and pop celebrities.
>      {Italic} Walt Brasch, an award-winning former newspaper
> reporter and editor, is professor of journalism at Bloomsburg
> University. His latest book is "Sex and the Single Beer Can," a
> compilation of many of his media-related columns. {end italic} -
> 30-
> ***************************************************************************
> Walter M. Brasch, Ph.D, Professor of Journalism
> Bloomsburg University (Bloomsburg, Pa. 17815)
>        Phone: 717-389-4565
>        FAX: 717-389-2094
>        e-mail: brasch at planetx.bloomu.edu
> ***************************************************************************

Now he's gotta point.

"The sharpest tool in the shed." -- anonymous

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