Saturday, September 10, 2005
More media failures:Caving-in to the race-baiters isn't the media's only failure -- and not even its worst -- in the coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
The media has gotten some praise from some on the left for their outrage at what happened in New Orleans. TV and cable news reporters have lashed out at authorities -- from the beat cop to the President of the United States -- for real and perceived failures. Some have characterized this willingness to challenge the Bush administration as the mainstream media finally growing a spine (for a thoughtful analysis of this school of thought, check out Jay Rosen's Pressthink). In reality, the press has really behaved like a spoiled child lashing out at whomever is convenient. They may have grown a spine, but there's no evidence that it is in any way connected to a brain. Undirected and misdirected outrage may make for good TV, but it's bad journalism. Imagine a reporter venting over the clergy sex-abuse scandals that have rocked the Catholic church and then asking the rabbi: "What are you going to do about it?"
As a whole, the press is simply reacting. It's not trying to dig into the how or why this disaster happened and what's next for New Orleans. Instead, the media spent an inordinate amount of time today on FEMA director Michael Brown's reassignment and résumé.
Is it really any wonder that newspaper circulation continues to drop? We're not doing a very good job -- and our readers know it.