Saturday, April 25, 2009

Celebrities > News

This video is an extreme example and incredibly cheesy but it gets the point across fairly well. It's hard to define when but "fluff" pieces made their way to the front pages and were allowed to take up huge segments on our nightly news. It's almost comical but it might be the right move for news outlets to put the emphasis on stories about these celebrities because this is what people are actually interested in. This is of course speculation and I could be wrong but I think if faced with the choice of watching a news story about the economy or conflict in the middle east people would almost always opt for the piece about celebrities. I suppose i'm guilty of this, but I generally try to avoid any sort of televised news and usually get most of my news from the BBC (who even has an entertainment section on their website).

I found a short article/blog written by a woman who is a writer and pastor in Ghana and it really made me think about what it would be like to be part of these issues that are often skimmed over. She writes: "I knew I was back in America when I turned on the news.

It was Sunday morning. While on a trip to Africa, I had followed each day the growing tension between the United States and Iran, so I switched on the TODAY show at 8am to see if anything important had happened during the night.

The first item of news was from Africa.

It wasn't news of Darfur where radical Islamists daily massacre people while their government turns a blind eye. It wasn't news of the AIDS epidemic which has affected Africa more than any other continent. It wasn't news from the Congo where a civil war has left more dead than in Europe during World War I.

It wasn't news from Zimbabwe which now has the highest rate of inflation in the world (over 1000%) and the lowest life expectancy (37 for men, 34 for women). But the news was highlighting a country close to Zimbabwe—Namibia, where Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie had decided their first child should be born!"

To have things put into perspective like that makes you feel really awful about not always paying attention to the news that is important. We've discussed things like this in class in the context of political issues and I know that if something is happening on the other side of the world and isn't really in my own back yard it's harder to focus on because 9 times out of 10 it's not going to effect me. I try to stay as informed as possible even on things that aren't going to directly effect me but sometimes it's difficult. However as difficult as it is do we really need things like this?

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