April 9, 2003
drive war news broadcasts
As a former TV News Anchor in both the Miami and Los
Angeles markets, I am well aware that the media prioritizes
and slants stories to gain maximum viewership. However,
I am horrified to see the steps that the networks and
news services are taking in their coverage of the war
in Iraq to outdo each other.
Of greatest concern is the lack of integrity shown by
some highly placed celebrity news anchors who, in their
slanted speculations about events, motivations and strategies,
could undermine the legitimacy of our leadership, inadvertently
provide strategic insight for our enemy, and otherwise
give aid and comfort to that enemy. Throughout the media,
it can be difficult to distinguish between the objective
delivery of news (reporting) and the attempt to influence
thought (editorial and commentary).
still, unscrupulous and perverse members of our media,
in their misguided efforts to "scoop" the
competition, have exposed to American families the wartime
slaughter of their sons and daughters on television before
the next-of-kin notification process had an opportunity
to assure simple human dignity.
News coverage that is live 24 hours a day faces incredible
challenges. This coverage must be enticing and informative,
yet simultaneously attract sponsors whose objectives
are to sell products and services.
Herein we find the difficulty: When push comes to shove,
will news organizations choose to supply us with important
news? Market-share seems to influence the shape of reporting.
media supply lots of interesting stories, but not necessarily
important information. Further, when the
public demands sensational stories rather than enlightening
information, reporting will likely respond to the “want
to know” mentality instead of the “essential
to know”. Add the economic pressure of attracting
advertising dollars to our society’s incredible
appetite for gobbling up stories and tidbits of fascinating
and sensational news, and one is confronted by a competitive
stage ripe for abuse, indecision and irresponsibility.
responsibility of a news reporting organization is
not entertainment. Giving to people what they want
(and beg for) may not always be what is wisest. Consider
the alcoholic begging for another drink or the drug abuser
seeking one more “high”.
the media, electronic and print, cannot determine how
best to regulate themselves (on behalf of the society
that bestows freedom of the press), then they jeopardize
the very foundations of our society! Our column, “Integrity
Matters,” has addressed abuses by many enterprises.
Over and over, we caution individuals and institutions
to govern their own behaviors. The very same must be
said about the media.