I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
No Such Thing as ‘Breaking Michael Jackson News’
I have no personal beef with the departed King of Pop — I grew up in the 80’s and I loved his dancing and his music and his barrier-breaking videos and I was right there with him until he morphed himself from a beautiful brown-skinned genius into a baffling and disfigured recluse.
But I do mind how the media — especially TV — turned the former pop idol’s death and the increasingly mawkish spectacle around it into a two-week-long circus that threatened to crowd out all other news.
I’m sorry, TV “news” people, but there is no longer any such thing as “Breaking Michael Jackson News.”
I avoided the TV on Tuesday because I knew the endless coverage of Jackson’s lavish, taxpayer-funded memorial service in cash-strapped Los Angeles would just make me mad. An elephant parade? Really?
Then I turned on the TV Wednesday and caught this — an MSNBC anchor who dared to diss his own network’s nauseatingly complete coverage of the (Once? Now? Forever?) beloved icon?
So what does anchor Carlos Watson think Americans should worry about right now instead of Prince Michael, Paris and Prince Michael II?
Foreclosures. That’s right, as Watson noted, millions of U. S. homeowners face the prospect of losing their homes as an expected second wave of foreclosures hits later this summer.
It got me thinking about the other stories that television news — and to a lesser degree, other mainstream media outlets — have shunted to the back since Jackson’s death.
Let’s see — election protests in Iran continue and the government continues to crack down on the dissenters. (I actually saw a story that predicted that preoccupation with Jackson’s death would cause Americans to lose interest in Iranians’ fight for clean elections and might doom the protest movement’s chances for success.)
The government of China is allegedly killing members of an ethnic minority group called Uighurs as they protest civil rights violations in that country.
Meanwhile, President Obama visited Moscow this week to negotiate with Russian leaders about reducing stockpiles of nuclear weapons that could destroy the world many times over.
Here in the U.S., the state of California began issuing possibly worthless I.O.U.s to private contractors, state vendors, local government and people who are supposed to receive tax refunds.
Congress is poised to debate sweeping legislation that could finally impose caps on carbon pollution and construct a reformed health care system that would provide coverage for all Americans.
I also saw this little gem — it is perhaps smaller in scale compared to the others, but full of cultural and historical significance. (I guess America’s not so post-racial after all. )
I know: We’re Americans. We have short attention spans and we love personality-driven “news.” I sure like to wallow in a good trashy story just as much as anyone.
But I hope that by paying attention to this stuff we’re not giving the networks tacit permission to place endless coverage and speculation about public figures like Michael Jackson and Sarah Palin and Steve McNair in front of real news about issues that directly affect millions of us.
I was one of those people who were certain that 9/11 would forever change the tenor of news coverage in the U.S. Our national obsession with celebrities was out — serious news was in. That lasted only a few months.
I had a similar feeling during the intense run-up to our national elections, as voter participation and civic engagement peaked in groups that had never been active before. The financial crash that emerged in the midst of the election served to further engage millions who regretted not paying attention to crucial details while country’s financial underpinnings were destroyed.
Between the financial meltdown and the health care crisis, our two wars and ongoing conflicts all around the world, Americans still face some pretty daunting challenges.
I don’t think we can afford to let our survival instincts lapse while we practice the moonwalk for a few more weeks.