Friday, April 19, 2013

Media Hype: How does being first beat being right?

A news service organization, out side of Fox News that is, rarely has the ability to totally piss me off. Well now, I can add CNN to the list. While waiting on a doctor's appointment, I had the very real displeasure of listening to news reports about the tragedy that happened in Boston on Monday during the Boston Marathon. Apparently there were reports that authorities have found a suspect and arrested them for the crime. CNN then went into "ultra exclusive zealot" mode and jumped on report like fiends to a crack pipe.


The only problem is, it turns out the report was absolutely false.  There were no arrests made. True authorities had a positive description of who they believed the suspect to be due to footage by a couple of nearby surveillance cameras, but no arrests. Somewhere down the line, someone told someone that told someone else that in turn told someone else that then told someone else that an arrest was made. Not sure where int he chain of whispers that CNN got wind of the information, but once they did it was like Christmas Day. The correspondents went all the way in on how technology has advanced to a point where police can make arrests like these in hours instead of weeks and how they definitely had their man. For a split second, I thought one correspondent magically turned into prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner before the suspect's name or image could even be released. Now that's swift Justice right?

No. It's just plan stupidity and not to mention irresponsibility. What has happened to the media in this country? The media has turned from trusted watchdog to dumb blond in a matter of thirty odd something years. What happened to the days of checking your facts, rechecking your facts, then rechecking them once more before reporting on a story. It seems like way to often, news organizations run on rumor rather than fact. The thing about rumors, they are rarely true and by the time it gets to you, it's very distorted. Don't believe me? Get about 10 of your friends and start a whisper chain. Whisper a piece of information in someone's ear and tell them to pass it down to the person next to them. By the time it gets to the last person it will be complete and utter bullshit. 

I guess one can blame the fact that the media are now controlled by big corporate monopolies who's only concern is about their bottom line, which means it's all about ratings baby! The more people you draw in, the more you put in front of advertisers, and thus the more advertisers can peddle their wears to a mass audience. It's not a new idea, after all that's how first free radio then free television rose. The problem now a days everything is so ratings driven that news organizations seem to have largely abandoned the once touted industry standard of objectivity and fact reporting. Now sensationalism, or yellow journalism as it was come to be known in the 1880s and 1890s, has reared it's ugly head once again. This time not out sell your competitor in terms of papers but in terms of ratings. Sensationalism seems to be the order of the day as networks replay graphic images over and over. Only Billboard hits in heavy rotation at radio stations can rival these tactics. Now reputable news sources are reporting distorted stories and showing misleading images to keep the public engrossed to their network so that they can be roped by advertisers.

The press in this country used to be taken seriously. It has been a model for not only people in this nation, but nations across the globe, of a free press that not only reported accurate information to the public, but in many ways became the unofficial Fourth Estate, that is the entity that kept the checks and balances in government and commerce alike. Somewhere down the line, some one decided that the bottom line was far more important than integrity.

Below is the FBI press briefing held almost 24 hours after CNN falsely reported an arrest. At this time the FBI still needs to identify and question two persons of interest in the bombing. Our prayers and thoughts go out to all those and their loved ones who were immediately affected by the bombings in Boston on Patriot's Day.

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VAUGHNE SMITH
Male Media Mind