And then... the car honked its own horn!

Greg over at The Talent Show pointed out an article in the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly written by Stephen King. I haven't read the article, (it's the print edition) so I don't know how much of it is about the Michael Jackson trial, and how much of it is discussing the media's reaction to the trial, but here's a bit:

The media first turned the trial into a freak-show by emphasizing Jackson's peculiarities rather than his humanity, and stoked the ratings with constant, trivializing coverage while other, far more important stories went under-reported or completely ignored in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, North Korea, and Washington, D.C.

The press might respond by saying, "We gave the people what they wanted."

My response would be, "My job is to give them what they want. When he steps into a recording studio, it's Michael Jackson's job to give them what they want. Your job is to give the people what they need."

Indeed. To which Greg says:

Is it just me or does it seem that the worse things get with news organizations, the more we see entertainers like John Stewart, Al Franken, and now Stephen King feel like they're forced to pick up the slack?

Yeah, I think they do, and thank goodness for that. I know if I had a national media outlet, even if I was an "entertainer," I'd be babbling until I was blue in the face.

What gets me about this whole thing is that phrase: "We gave the people what they wanted." Like King says, that is not the job of the press. It's also one of the main reasons I hate Fox news.

"The Fox Effect" has done nothing but destroy the quality of news and informative media in this country. Turning news into "entertainment" has been great for (their) business, but it has had no other effect than keeping the American public stupid, complacent, and uninformed. And other news outlets, in their scramble to be "competitive," have helped destroy what is left of the information network that exists to help us make informed decisions.

Whenever someone complains about the state of the media in this country, I blame Fox.

I realize that information media was going downhill long before Fox gained its stranglehold on television news. (By the way, did you know Bagdikian has written The New Media Monopoly?) However, Fox has created and fostered the "news as entertainment" philosophy. Well, it's more of a disease, really, and it's infected every other news outlet in this country.

I knew television news had completely died when they started doing those "gotcha" segments. You know the types of consumer revenge things they did: someone gets burned buying a new car and contacts the station, the "investigative news team" goes out and catches the merchant on a hidden camera, they reveal who they are and begin demanding answers on film, they usually wind up chasing the bewildered merchant across the parking lot, barking questions (I'm amazed ANY reporter would agree to do this... wouldn't they be completely humiliated?), and sometimes they get the poor ripped-off "victim" his money back. And they actually expected us to buy this as "investigative journalism."

I'm really, really glad that little trend died out.

News is not entertainment. I don't watch the news for that reason... no one does. The only reason people feel that news "has to be" entertaining is because Fox says it does. Bullshit. Show me a guy that watches the news to be entertained, and I'll show you The Grand Poobah of Fantasyland. Let Fox continue with their mickeymouse "news" programming, and start a hard-hitting, investigative news program that covers important stories and doesn't insult the viewer's intelligence, and I guarantee ratings.

I don't know if the internet or the blogosphere is necessarily the "answer" to the corruption of the news media (although The Big Brass Alliance, After Downing Street, and other internet movements forcing the MSM to sit up and pay attention to the DSMs is a good start), but something needs to be done. We need to demand that our news outlets start reporting actual news. The Michael Jackson trial belongs on Extra, not on my news program. Quit following Fox's example like lemmings, and quit kowtowing to your advertisers.

Now more than ever, we need to be informed.

Now more than ever, we need the media fighting for US.

Please let Stephen King get back to writing trashy horror books. That's why we love him. He shouldn't be doing your job.

Image Hosted by
(Image from, which you really should check out.)

(If I said you had a beautiful cross-post, would you hold it against me?)

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus