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News Media Last Updated: Jul 13th, 2010 - 00:47:07

Reporting on the reporting
By Paul O�Sullivan
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Jul 13, 2010, 00:16

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As Captain Casillas stepped onto the boarding stairs, the BBC reported that Spain�s footballers were returning home to �a media frenzy.� Some 20 hours beforehand, around the time Casillas hoisted the trophy, an Irish independent radio station replayed an earlier broadcast during which persons in the public eye debated and compared the Irish and British World Cup coverage. Last year, main evening news bulletins included features on press freedom and the use of blogging and Twitter by everyday Iranians to get their word out to the world.

Yes, the news and how that news is found now constitutes news. Mainstream media are so overawed by their own power that they now report on themselves. As the BBC aptly demonstrated in their coverage of Spain�s triumphant homecoming, the media�s role in a particular story is in itself considered a bona fide story. In an unparalleled bout of professional narcissism American news anchors congratulate their reporters on �a great job,� exchanging twee words as if the camera were nonexistent. Or perhaps there is something in this -- are mainstream media inadvertently reporting their own meteoric rise to stardom? Are we in an age, like so many before, when stories are a, if not the, leading global commodity? Stick on the Backroom, Control Room, Hawkeye or whatever slick names producers have concocted to find that just about anybody can get on television. Not much further down this route news channels will be offering a slot for dyslexics to write a column or mutes to present. That this is a slur against contemporary news reporting and not against people with disabilities goes without saying, doesn�t it?

At a press conference soon after the BP oil catastrophe, President Obama spoke, as is his manner, forthrightly about the challenges and concerns of central government. In the questions-after the president answered at length questions posed by journalists, who more often than not asked two related.

The president answered as candidly as he had spoken, which one would think would be in the interest of mainstream media. But the whole show was dubbed as �tentative,� �tense� and was apparently conducted in �a fraught atmosphere.� The descriptions only convey how much mainstream media currently rely on PR-speak and the threat to diluted journalism catastrophes of that magnitude presents.

What then, should people be demanding from those responsible for cataloguing the awfulness of progress and humanity? Nothing, if their consumers are satisfied with sensationalist reporting that contemplates the future, thus providing a context for story progression and its own survival, over documenting in detail the present. Something, if readers wish to pick up a newspaper from their local kiosk, stand, shop and see �Story of a Taliban fighter� or �Coal miners . . . in Afghanistan� on the border. Personally, I like a story ripped apart until the truth is exposed like a beating heart in a surgery room. But for all its interest in reality as shown on TV, the world is seemingly disinterested in actual reality.

Paul O�Sullivan resides in Ireland. He can be contacted at

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