Thursday, March 11, 2010

Rep. Patrick Kennedy Blasts The Main Stream Media; Plus Commentary

Representative Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), son of the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, ripped the news media on the floor of the House of Representatives Wednesday, citing the media's failure to adequately cover the war in Afghanistan while giving updates of the Eric Massa scandal 24/7.

Kennedy continued his loud tirade until cut off by Rep. Loretta Sanchez, who was presiding over the chamber. Kennedy has announced he is not seeking re-election in 2010.

Patrick Kennedy is on the mark...we are not well served by most mainstream media in this country, whether it be the Big Four Networks, or CNN, HLN, MSNBC, or FOX. All of the networks are owned by large conglomerates looking at a bottomline....all have cutback in coverage of international news, and some have specifically geared their broadcasts at particular demographics or political beliefs.

When was the last time there were meaningful stories leading off the hour about events in Iraq or Afghanistan? The news of American casualties seems to get buried in the middle of a broadcast, if mentioned at all. And the failure to inform the public is not exclusive to war coverage- any news about what's going on in Haiti in the aftermath of the devastating earthquakes has been sadly lacking; Sean Penn showing up on REAL TIME with Bill Maher and on CBS SUNDAY MORNING to tell of the plight of tens of thousands living in tents on hillsides with hurricane season less than three months away is not enough coverage.

A few years ago PBS had an episode of FRONTLINE that dealt with the change in broadcast media. The "bottomline" ownership of mega conglomerates was only part of the equation....this transformation began more than 30 years ago when a little show called 60 Minutes was moved to Sunday nights following NFL football, and became one of the most watched programs on television. Until then news coverage was a "loss leader" at the networks....ABC, NBC, CBS and local affiliates covered news as part of their licensing agreement to serve the public good. But with the ratings success of 60 Minutes the networks and affiliates has an eureka moment; there was a way to make money with news. Soon the copycats started up, tailoring stories that they thought viewers would watch.

Ted Turner came along with CNN....all news, all of the time. MSNBC and FOX followed years well as the ownership by Time-Warner, General Electric and Microsoft, and by NEWSCORP. Along with DISNEY owned ABC, the news divisions of the Big Four networks and 24 hour cable news outlets shifted from what Walter Cronkite said "the public needed to know" to what the public wanted to know; and we had "infotainment" on a larger scale than what we had ever seen previously. Viewership was segmented by demographic and political preference in some cases, and always with the intent of maximizing ratings. Add the rise of the internet as an information source, and the slow protracted death of America's newspapers, and we have the situation we have today.

Some may accuse me of hypocrisy because I'll include personality driven features in this blog along side political entries. But here's the difference- I never set out to do a strictly political blog....but I do write a blog that has a decided and admitted political slant, and I make no apologies for it. I write about people places, things, and ideas that appeal to me....and I just like to write; so I throw these ideas and features back to you, all 900 + of them.

And I'm not doing it for the money.

I thank God for the dedicated bloggers we have out there...the one's who'll talk about subjects few want to, and of subjects few in media want to touch. Though there may be a slant in the presentation in some, its being brought for with a passion that's void of profit, other than profiting by doing a good job in its writing.

Maybe more of that zeal is need by some of the "MSM", minus the bottomline.

1 comment:

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