While catching one of the network shows this morning, I caught their concept of a news segment: following a report on the Iowa caucuses, they did a piece on Britney Spears' latest meltdown. It was while watching the video clip of that non-event that a number of questions came to mind that I'd like to ask:
- How is it that the personal troubles of one particular pseudo-celebrity qualify as a news item worthy of national reporting?
- By broadcasting that segment, wasn't the network -- in effect -- equating Britney's latest 'issues' with the Iowa caususes? That the difference was of degree, but not kind? (Littering and murder are both crimes; I think most of us would agree that they are vastly different in the degree of severity)
- What the hell does it say about our society that the weenie-in-charge would even think that the two items should both be reported in the same segment?
- If they're screwed up enough to include Britney with the caucuses, what other misjudgements are they making? I mean, if Britney is being included for her perceived 'draw' value, what isn't making the cut for the reverse reason?
Personally, I have the national evening 'news' programs on (usually well into the program, in preparation for my local news). The way I figure it, they stopped being NEWS programs about the time Dan Rather got canned for his little Bush v. National Guard whoopsie. When they started putting entertainment program personalities (I've met Walter Cronkite, and Katie Couric is no Walter Cronkite!) as anchors for evening news shows, they pretty much lost any credibility with me. Now my standard of reference is Jim Lehrer on PBS -- anything that turns up there is deserving of my attention; curiously, Britney, Madonna, Paris, and the like haven't made an appearance, as yet...
I think that what I'm going to do is start boycotting the broadcast networks whenever they include crap like a Britney meltdown, or a Paris Hilton fiasco, or anything of that ilk. Each boycott will be just the network I see make the misjudgement, for 24 hours, and accompanied by a nice email to the news division of the offending network, telling them who I am and what I'm doing and -- most importantly -- why.
I know that if I do this by myself, it's going to have pretty much zero impact. I can only hope that enough other people share my desire to see network evening news programs start featuring news again, and do something similar -- and maybe even encourage others to join in, as well. Who knows, maybe it'll have an impact, sooner or later...
I'll be updating this posting in a bit, to include the email addresses for the news divisions at ABC, CBS, and NBC.UPDATE:
As promised, here are the appropriate links. Note that NONE of them offers anything like a direct email address; all feedback is via online forms...
NBC News (use the 'select show' option, and proceed)