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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

“just give up, stop complaining, accept idiocy as inevitable”

MSNBC Boston marathon bombing

That seems to be what Tim Goodman at The Hollywood Reporter is saying:

BREAKING: Criticism of Boston Bombing Coverage Won’t Change Anything (Opinion)

CNN or MSNBC or Fox News doesn’t give a damn at this moment how viciously “The Daily Show” is going to tear them apart.

Television news, particularly 24-hour cable coverage, is essentially a master class in how to do journalism poorly. And so media critics — and, yes, hordes of people who are mortified by what they see on their television screens — write columns or take to social media and lambaste the offending parties. From CNN to Fox News, nobody — from top management to reporters on the street and anchors telling them what a great job they’ve been doing — is immune.

But here’s the problem: There is never any change. There are no fixes. You might have thought CNN and others were more cautious after recent egregious errors coming out of the Boston reporting, but they weren’t, really. Because the job of a 24-hour cable news channel is to have people constantly talking about the news, whether the story has moved an inch or not. It can’t afford caution. Saying “we have no information” just makes people change the channel. Ratings plummet. People get fired.

And so what we’ve witnessed in the last 48 hours and continue to witness as the story unfolds, is the same rush to judgment, the same passing on of “news” that turns out to be untrue or non-existent. Only now it’s wrapped in that clever news-speak that goes a little something like this: “We’re hearing that there could be as many as five bombs and an entire cell of people involved, but again, we can’t confirm this and will err on the side of caution until we can.”

Clap. Clap. Clap. Well played.

So this is not a media criticism column. It’s a column saying give up — the war is over. You can’t win — and by you I mean media critics. None of the news organizations are listening. And the only people really concerned with your legitimate complaints are those people long since sickened by mainstream American news organizations who now prefer the BBC or online sites or whatnot.

There’s a lot more, and it’s only increasingly dispiriting.

Goodman wants to be defeatist? Fine. I say, Fuck that shit. It’s bullshit that “there is never any change.” Cable news didn’t start out this awful, and it’s not inevitable that it be this way. But it certainly will remain this way if those of us who see the problems with it shut up and let it get away with its idiocy.

Jesus. I can’t believe this passes for media criticism.



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