August 11, 2005

The slow death of credible TV news

Gotta get something off my chest here:

When I was in college, I wanted NOTHING more in the world to be a broadcast journalist. I was accepted into the toughest and most acclaimed broadcasting school in the nation, and nothing was going to stop me from being on TV, delivering people the honest and relevant news of the day.

However, something happened on my way to CNN. About the time I was about to head down this path, the first gulf war broke out. During that time, I was dumbfounded how idiotic news people appeared as they talked about meaningless topics, gave bad information, or worse yet, told the enemy where we were going to attack. After watching Pentagon news briefings where U.S. generals answered questions such as, “Do you know where the next U.S. launched strikes will be”, I decided journalists were just too sensation and idiotic for me to make a difference.

Fast forward to 2005, and the problem is once again easy to see. Take for instance the Fox News Channel and the heartbreaking case of Natalie Holloway..the young girl who was tanked up and ended up vanishing on the island of Aruba. However, instead of following one of the MANY missing person cases, Fox decides to go with sensationalism, and literally pounds this story into and past the consciousness of the American public. Leading that charge is the Greta Van Sustern. For nearly TWO months, this plastic surgery model gone bad had preached from her studio and other locations to make sure every living person on earth finds this girl in a country several thousand miles from the U.S. shorelines. At first, it made a lot of sense, because it is a sensational story with pretty people, evil foreigners, exotic places, rednecks, drunk blondes, even throw in a couple of misfit Islamic brothers, and you have the makings of a modern day Nancy Drew novel.

However, after about the first four weeks, when it became apparent that a) the Dutch government isn’t too torn up about it and b) They were probably never going to find the body…Fox and Greta have ramped up their search for clues in an effort to drum up ratings. And judging by the Neilson ratings…it seems to be working. (CNN Headline news has their own psycho lady who preaches about this story..but I’m not getting into her at the moment.)

Meanwhile, missing person stories like that of Omaha teenager Jason Jakowlski go virtually unnoticed by the general public..even in their own hometown. Why is this? Is it because the American public is only interested in stories about pretty blonde girls who are killed by evil foreigners? Or does it take some stupid idiot “runaway bride” to capture imaginations of bored housewives everywhere? Or maybe we can have more stories about hot 30 year old teachers who bang their 17 year old students?

Whatever the reason is, the media in this country has become so out of control…so agenda driven that it isn’t even worth watching anymore. As an educated adult in this great country, I feel it is my duty to make up my own mind about the issues that affect me, and take the media frenzy for what it’s worth…just another way for the media networks to push their own race for ratings. With the passing of Peter Jennings this week, we are reminded just how far journalism in this country has sunk. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s going to get better anytime soon.

For more information on Jason and his family’s search to find him, please visit this website.



Blogger Sam said...

the coorespondants during Gulf War I were nothing more than underpaid employees of the State Department.

3:31 PM  
Anonymous Section96 said...

If you don't like it, don't watch it. Seems pretty simple to me.

7:01 PM  
Blogger AJ said...

That seems to be a common theme for you this year Matt. That's like the 5th time I've seen you type it.

Then again..don't like the blog entry..don't have to reply now huh?

And by the way...I don't have to watch it or not watch it to think it's a completely lame and a slap in the face to the dying breed of credible journalists everywhere. It is everything wrong with the industry and society.

So stick that in your Minnesota pipe and smoke it Beaver boy.


8:48 PM  
Anonymous MavRho said...

I like Greta.

9:49 PM  
Anonymous Section96 said...


You seem to think that Greta (or Scarbourough or Nancy Grace or O'Reilly or Hannity & Colmbs) are somehow "journalists". That is where you're grossly mistaken.

They are entertainers.

Cronkite, Brokaw, and their ilk are "journalists".

Greta is not.

No one is pointing a gun to your head and making you PAY $45/month for TELEVISION.

Again, if you don't like it, don't watch it. Still a simple choice.

10:48 PM  
Blogger AJ said...

I don't like your attitude.


8:00 AM  
Blogger AJ said...

PS - the PROBLEM is...too many people only get their news from people like Greta. Have you seen the ratings for the nightly news programs at 5:30? They've been dropping for years.

The saturation and sensationalism of tabloid journalism has clouded the public's view of the world. That's all I'm saying.

And once haven't answered the question as to why some missing person/euthenasia cases are SO important, while thousands of others go unnoticed?

And PSS - I know you think I'm pretty dumb..but be carefull..I do have a background in this stuff.

8:02 AM  
Blogger Adam said...

96's right, Greta, Sean, Bill and the rest of them are in the same boat at Billy Bush, Pat O'Brien and those blonde hotties on the TV 'entertainment' news programs...they are just that, 'entertainment'...Brian Williams, Ted Koppel, Charles Gibson...those guys are journalists. James Carville is a mouthpiece.

8:42 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

Nancy Grace is a moron-- who did she blow to get that job? Ask anybody here who has work with her... and there are many. We feel so dirty after working with her, we all need to go home and take showers.

As for not watching. Not a viable option. We need the news to remain informed persons. And in a market with one shitty newspaper, it is more important to watch network news and such.

I mean, sure, we can go out and subscribe to the Chicago Tribune, but then we are two days behind the rest of the world-- if you know how newspapers work outside of the market they are designed for (though, the OWH is already, when it comes to most national news), and we don't get local news.

And if you watch CNN or FNC... it looks like the cameramen or graphic techs have ADD-- can we put anymore shit on the screen?

9:39 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

See who Pat O'Brien met in rehab this week... on 'the Insider', tonight at 6!

9:40 AM  
Anonymous Section96 said...


I'm not saying that the Holloway case is "that" important.

The REASON it's "important" to Fox and BSNBC (and, to a lesser extent, CNN)is ratings. Ratings = $$$.

Those individuals who choose to get their news from shows like Greta's generally are rowing the proverbial canoe with one oar missing.

6:28 PM  
Blogger Whooter said...

Buy a T-shirt!

/straight to Hell. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.

10:28 AM  

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