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Social Networking and the Not So Free Press

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By Anthony L. Butler


What ever happened to hard hitting, integrity based reporting? What we currently have in the media is by and large sensationalist nonsense. Are there any serious news outlets left in the US? Since when is Britney Spears’ panties or lack there of headline news? Twenty years ago, the antics of most of Hollywood were reserved for tabloids or the entertainment section.

I suspect intense competition for the attention of audiences are forcing the different news agencies to jump on the band wagon of what I like to think of as Fad reporting. What ever will drive rating the most will suddenly become news. Fairness, critical thinking be damned. The more sensational a potential story the more headlines.

Take a look at the current focus on Social Media. It has become a popular subject on the internet and so it becomes the subject of many media outlets trying to boost ratings, which creates a self fulfilling cycle. Twitter sounds cool so every outlet in the world writes an article about it and suddenly it IS cool. Ashton Kutcher took on Larry King and CNN in the first ever Twitter follower competition, and this grabbed the world's attention. Technology empowers us and promotes communication, but shouldn't we consider the messages we are communicating?

Currently it seems the immediate results of this new communication is the watering down of the news. Important issues are marginalized. When did Lindsay Lohan’s latest lesbian lover(or ex-lover as the case may be) become more important to America than the war in Afghanistan. We have been at war there for more than 6 years. Thousands of our best and brightest have sacrificed their lives and there is barely a headline to be found on any news outlet.

President Obama made what should have been considered a historic trip around the world. He broke political ground in Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Pakistan that has not been touched by any president in decades. Cataclysmic shifts in foreign policy this week took the back seat to Oprah's first "tweet," Lindsay Lohan, and the so called Craig’s list killer. What’s next, an alien invasion?

What we need is a new news outlet to rise out of the ashes of incompetence of CNN, FOX NEWS, CNBC and others to keep us informed about real news—real stories that have relevance to us in our everyday lives. Events that may effect the lives of our children and grand children.

Enough with sensationalist reporting. Lets bring some integrity back to journalism.


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