Another News Media Rant

There’s been a lot of news in Baltimore about the disappearance of Phylicia Barnes, an honor student visiting Baltimore, who has been missing since 28 December.  The news has turned from the details of the disappearance to the apparent mishandling of the news by the national news media.  It’s pretty sad actually, that we hear about Natalee Holloway regularly still, despite being missing since 2005, while a quick Google search will show that Phylicia Barnes’ case has barely been touched by national outlets.  The message is that if you are black and missing, then it’s not a big deal, but if you are white (or eve better white AND rich), then it is a huge deal.

Kids missing (people missing, actually) should be a damn big deal no matter what!  It’s shouldn’t be about advertising time, but sadly, that’s what it’s about.  It seems to me that the news media sees the buying power of people like Natalee Holloway, Laci Peterson, etc. and guesses (probably correctly) that people like them will be hooked on watching the tragic things that happen in their lives.  Whereas the people who look like Phylicia Barnes, and probably a myriad other crime victims, are presumed to have less buying power, thus less incentive for advertisers to buy time during their coverage, thus less coverage.

Capitalizing on tragedy makes me sick.  Meanwhile, I have no idea about luminaries in my community.  I had no clue about We Care and Friends or Larry Griffith before serving alongside them with Revolution Annapolis.  I had no idea about Back on My Feet until Rob started running with them.  How will people hear about Feed 40 Thousand?  Well, we’re going to leverage social media, personal relationship, smoke signals and everything we can.  We hope to get media coverage, but we will see, won’t we?

All these great ideas, all these providers of hope, all these organizations and individuals providing hope and joy…I don’t know about them because they’re hard to find amidst the amplified horror and fear frenzy of common media.

What about what’s going on in science?  What new discoveries have their been?  What new medicines are changing people’s lives?  What new procedures are prolonging lives?  If you missed it that one time they talked about it on the news for ten minutes, you’ll never find it again amidst the updates on JonBenet.  It’s sickening to think that ice-cold case sells ads better than hope and joy.

It’s pretty insane that Extreme Makeover: Home Edition has become a major outlet for finding out about the good things people are doing in this country.  That festival of product placement has figured it out.  Perhaps the news should start doing product placement during their coverage of positve things.  Then, they would have another hook in the advertisers…except they’d probably do the same thing with negative news.  Which brings us to the real problem…the viewers.  Too many of us are shocked when bad things happen to white people but blow it off when bad things happen to black people.  Too many of us are more interested in people dying than people sacrificing their wants and desires so someone else will experience hope.  I’m trying to be better at this.  I want to care for people and sacrifice my own wants to help them.  I don’t want to be fascinated by the details of the daily life of a crazy person who goes on a shooting spree.

This is a pretty disjointed rant.  I’m sorry.  I’ll be blogging again tomorrow, and I think it is going to be a MUST READ blog.  Stay tuned.

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