Thursday, October 4, 2007

WSJ: Failures of the News Media

Two articles in today's WSJ highlight important problems in today's international news media:

Britney Spears, 'Breaking News'
by Jake Halpern

The problem is not US Weekly, People, "Entertainment Tonight," "Access Hollywood" or any of the shows and publications that have always billed themselves as entertainment venues. The problem is when TV shows and entire networks, which Americans rely upon to get the news, allow real news stories to be pushed aside again and again and again in deference to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

Modern Heroes
by Robert D. Kaplan

Rather than hated, like during Vietnam, now the troops are "loved." But the best units don't want love; they want respect. The dilemma is that the safer the administration keeps us at home, the more disconnected the citizenry is from its own military posted abroad. An army at war and a nation at the mall do not encounter each other except through the refractive medium of news and entertainment.

That medium is refractive because while the U.S. still has a national military, it no longer has a national media to quite the same extent. The media is increasingly representative of an international society, whose loyalty to a particular territory is more and more diluted. That international society has ideas to defend -- ideas of universal justice -- but little actual ground. And without ground to defend, it has little need of heroes. Thus, future news cycles will also be dominated by victims.

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