Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Brad Pitt's Illness, Colin Farrell's Sex Tape, and Oh - There's That Genocide Thing, Too

Nicholas Kristof continues to impress. His latest column, following his series on North Korea, takes the Bush administration to task for its relative silence on the Darfur tragedy, but his real anger is at a news media that would prefer to cover the Michael Jackson trial or Martha Stewart's prison sentence to an embarrassing extent while completely ignoring the African genocide:
According to monitoring by the Tyndall Report, ABC News had a total of 18 minutes of the Darfur genocide in its nightly newscasts all last year - and that turns out to be a credit to Peter Jennings. NBC had only 5 minutes of coverage all last year, and CBS only 3 minutes - about a minute of coverage for every 100,000 deaths. In contrast, Martha Stewart received 130 minutes of coverage by the three networks.

Incredibly, more than two years into the genocide, NBC, aside from covering official trips, has still not bothered to send one of its own correspondents into Darfur for independent reporting.

No doubt the network heads would say they are merely reflecting what the public wants (news by focus group?)...but the root problem here is the blurring of infotainment and news (yikes - shades of Frank Rich! Of course, Rich errs when he attributes this to the Bush administration - it's actually a pervasive societal trend). When it becomes difficult to distinguish World News Tonight from Entertainment Tonight, something is terribly wrong. We're not quite there yet...but then, we're not that far from it, either...

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