Saturday, May 8, 2010

Why no flood coverage?

This is a good point, more news channels doesn't mean more news coverage - just like more news magazines didn't mean more news. What happens is the networks compete to cover the "big" stories more in depth than each other. In the process other stories are neglected. And don't get me started on media coverage of media coverage.
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So why the cold shoulder? I see two main reasons. First, the modern media may be more multifarious than ever, but they're also remarkably monomaniacal. In a climate where chatter is constant and ubiquitous, newsworthiness now seems to be determined less by what's most important than by what all those other media outlets are talking about the most. Sheer volume of coverage has become its own qualification for continued coverage. (Witness the Sandra Bullock-Jesse James saga.) In that sense, it's easy to see why the press can't seem to focus on more than one or two disasters at the same time. Everyone is talking about BP and Faisal Shahzad 24/7, the "thinking" goes. So there must not be anything else that's as important to talk about. It's a horrible feedback loop.

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