Friday, May 17, 2013

The Exploitation of Charles Ramsey... and You

Here's an example of our cynical news media at work. A man eating a meal at a nationally-known fast-food establishment is distracted by a commotion coming from outside the restaurant. He rises from his seat to run toward the source of the noise. Upon arriving at the scene, he joins another man in responding to a call for help from a woman inside the house. The two men eventually break down the door, facilitating the rescue of 3 women and 1 girl who had been held captive inside the house for years. Local media arrive at the scene shortly after law enforcement and emergency personnel, presumably, to interview those involved in the rescue. Only the first man who arrived at the scene isn't interviewed. (We'll call him, 'Man #1'.) Reporters mostly focus on Man #2; a distinctly odd-looking character armed with a full compliment of similarly colorful expressions. But we can't find fault with Man #2 for being himself. After all, he's due a little face time in front of the TV cameras after such a selfless act.

However, we're kidding ourselves. Man #2 is an unwitting tool; a prop used by the news media to dramatize an already dramatic story. Man #2 has now become, in fact, The News. Relatively little coverage is being afforded to the still-unfolding police investigation. Meanwhile, Man #1 has yet to get even a complimentary cup of coffee from the aforementioned fast-food restaurant. I can't help but notice Man #1's appearance and mannerisms are otherwise unremarkable. Man #2's interviews have since become a smash Internet meme in the tradition of the Harlem Shake and Antoine Dodson. He and the videos featuring his interviews are getting major league face time on seemingly every national TV news outlet. Both the meme and the so-called legitimate news interviews feed the 24/7 freak show that explains much of American commercial news media today. It's blatantly self-serving. And that means...

Many of today's news editors and journalists are insincere about providing the public with information whereby we can improve our daily lives. I wonder how much of this attitude has infected the media industry after today reading a suburban DC AM station boast about one of its hosts 'interviewing' Man #2 last Saturday (which I strongly suspect was driven by a misguided attempt to make Man #2 a race martyr). Their conceit stands as evidence the radio station thinks of itself as The News ahead of the victims, the accused, the investigation, Man #2, and certainly Man #1. By making themselves the spectacle, they're also signaling their contempt for their listeners' intelligence. All things considered, it's safe to say the news media isn't really concerned with what we think as long as we continue to watch or listen to the sideshow.

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