Thursday, January 24, 2008

Freak shows

Sometimes the triviality of the corporate "news" media is absolutely mind-numbing.

What was one of the stories at the very top of the front page of today's Glens Falls Post-Star? One of the stories that the paper's collective editorial judgement deemed to be a big news item of great public importance?

It was a story about how former Phish lead singer Trey Anastasio after he missed a mandatory drug counseling session. This was required after he pleaded guilty to a felony charge of fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance last year.

Washington County Sheriff Roger Leclaire said Anastasio's days in jail were uneventful, added the paper, if to underline the pointlessness of the story.

5.5 million people have died in the DR Congo avoidably in the last decade and the honchoes at The Post-Star feel that far more ink should be given to a C-list celebrity druggie spending a few days in jail.

I suppose at least it's a non-story with a local angle, unlike their groundbreaking "bridge that dogs in Scotland like to jump off" front page non-story from August 2005.

The daily's motto must be "a small-minded paper for a small town."

But it's not just the small-minded, small-town media that's complicit in the dumbing down of the American citizenry.

Here are the top stories on the domestic CNN.com this morning:

Snow strands hundreds near L.A.
$20 bill in Ledger's home tests clean
Autopsy: Slain Marine's fetus not born alive
Freed man: Detective's big ego stole half my life
Crash kills 20 after air safety meeting
CNNMoney: One trader costs bank $7.14 billion
Scary movie making viewers sick
Married mayor to aide: 'I love you madly'
Snow-day rant teen wishes calls would stop
Ticker: 5 year old quizzes Clinton on marriage
Are you an obnoxious patient?
WSB: Police: Coroner stole gift cards from dead
Laughing jail call gets woman long sentence
Old photo reunites teacher, beloved student
Bigfoot pops up in more unexpected places

Only two stories, possibly three, even remotely worth mentioning on a supposedly serious national news outlet out of the 15 listed.

And this is without the "random middle class, photogenic blond white girl is kidnaped" story that periodically dominates TV coverage.

I suppose that if the self-proclaimed America's most trusted news source's editorial judgement is this warped, then it's not surprising that small town media is following them like lemmings off a cliff.


Update: Interestingly, the top stories on CNN's INTERNATIONAL website has the ratio of serious stories to trivial garbage was completely reversed. This is one of many indications that CNN treats its international audience with far more respect than its domestic audience... something that Democracy Now's Amy Goodman noted was key to the differing American and international perceptions of the US Aggression against Iraq. Just watch CNN domestic TV and switch to CNN International and you'll notice the same thing. Perhaps this is because CNN domestic's biggest competitor is Fox News [sic] while CNN International's biggest competitor is the BBC.

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