"I mentioned that I was in Asia on this trip thinking about the economy, when I sat down for a round of interviews. Not one of them asked me about Asia. Not one of them asked me about the economy. I was asked several times about had I read Sarah Palin's book. (Laughter.) True. But it's an indication of how our political debate doesn't match up with what we need to do and where we need to go."
-- President Barak Obama, quoted by Time, about the American television network correspondents who interviewed him while in Asia.
Whether you like or agree with President Obama, the President is correct on this point. The mainstream news media seems to be intent of focusing public attention away from the issues of the day that matter most--how the economy is faring, how a cap and trade carbon tax would affect the cost of goods and materials you use every day, what the real outcome of nationalized healthcare insurance would look like--and instead would rather devote "breaking news" headlines to how many women a pro-golfer has allegedely slept with, how some attention-hungry couple managed to crash a State Dinner at the White House, or in the case of the President, whether or not he had read Sarah Palin's latest book.
True Journalism in America is circling the drain as newspapers fold, and Congress actually considers spending tax dollars to bail out failed business plans that refuse to recognize fundamental changes in how news and entertainment content is accessed by the public. Ellen Goodman over the weekend correctly noted that as newsrooms shrink or disappear altogether, so do the checkers of facts that are printed or presented to the public.
"All the news that's fit to print" has been replaced by "all the news we can get our hands on, whether it's accurate or not," because websites now must find ever-changing content to populate their pages for "stickiness," lest they lose "clicks" and ad revenue.
On Friday it was announced that some Editors for The Dallas Morning News will be reporting directly to executives outside the newsroom who oversee advertising sales, a move described as "a restructuring that overturns longstanding traditions in American newspapers aimed at shielding news judgments from business concerns."
While many in the news business are raising hue and cry at this tearing down of the Chinese wall between editorial and sales operations, this trend has been more discretely taking place for years at Radio stations and Television stations across our fruited plains.
Lest I come off sounding like some old crank, unhappy with the forward march of progress--I am not: I embrace true progress--I am very concerned that the pablum that passes for news these days is just watered down tabloid tackiness, designed more to attract your eyes and ears for a moment, rather than engage your brain.
It's a sad commentary when Saturday Night Live and Jon Stewart do a better job at getting the facts of a story straight for the purpose spoofing and lampooning the principals involved, than do the major "news gathering" organizations...hampered in part by budget cutbacks, or closures because all the news thats fit to print isn't affordable--or necessarily factual--anymore.