Monday, May 23, 2011

A Very Special Episode

"Good Morning America - A Tornado's Fury"

Tornadoes are nasty things. I certainly wouldn't want to be at ground zero of one. But sometimes I feel that in the quest for higher ratings (or just to arrest the slide), media outlets tend to overplay things, primarily by focusing on the most wrenching human interest stories and crazy visuals they can find.

Of course, the reason for this is that this is what people want to see. It's the very epitome of "if it bleeds, it leads." These things crowd out the remainder of world events because the collective we wants them to. It's convenient for people to think that the media is part of a conspiracy to distract us from our "real problems," but when you look into it, these are the sorts of things that people feel ARE the real problems - the things that we should be focused on. That's why they garner so much attention. "The media," like politicians, are keen to show people that it cares about the things that their audience cares about. (I'll be surprised if critics of President Obama don't use his trip to Ireland as "proof" that he doesn't care about Americans as much as they do.)

True, the media amplifies these things, just as political campaigns amplify certain traits among the electorate. But if we're going to ramp down the hysteria, we're going to do it from our end, rather than expecting the media establishment to take the lead.

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