Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Press Obsession

A kind reader left a comment wondering why there is so much media and public fascination and tributes to the VT victims where we barely hear much of the military victims these days. There are sites dedicated to remembering the fallen soldiers and occasionally the newsprint and other media will run specials on the individuals killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, there are at least a couple factors at play here regarding the differing coverage.

One is the cold hard reality, that despite the media's sometimes holier than thou business attitude, they are, increasing a real business that seeks viewership, ratings and advertisers. They push the sensational, the pieces guaranteed to get big audiences at the expense of the weighty, not easily digested or yesterday's news stories. Unfortunately, for many people in the audience, they turn the channel or page on the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.

The second philosophical factor, is that while you cannot really weigh one tragedy against another, at the fundamental level, one may argue the greater tragedy of the VT students since they were not volunteers putting themselves into harm's way, they did not sign up for a deadly mission, they were like many of us, once living an idyllic college existence. Moreover, from a relational point of view, more people can relate to the college students or even have family members as college students, in comparison to the military.

All tragic, nevertheless.


Margee said...

OK...I get the fact that ratings trump altruism. BUT....the networks are saturated with discussions about the war, analyses of Nancy Pelosi's latest move, and annoying 4-person discussions related to any remotely related topic area; so why not human interest stories? You can't even watch sports anymore without human interest stories....a tragedy in itself if you ask me. The olympics have been totally consumed by annoying vignettes about each athlete's "unique" circumstances. But seriously, if the media truly is as left-leaning as accused, why wouldn't they appeal to the collective American heartstring via touching stories of the dead that make it impossible to forget the tragedy of the situation? And, yes, we have a volunteer military but in reality, it's composed of many with no other options. Hardly voluntary in its truest sense.

MMB said...