Boycott Media Puffery?

By Published on .

On one hand, I completely agree with Jack Myers, who is calling for viewers to boycott TV news every time even a second is wasted on celebrity coverage. Mix in the insipid folks who are only interested in coverage of Angelina Jolie, the do-gooder groups who want to protect "the children" from any sort of violence on TV, stir in skads of reporters who sit in the Green Zone and rely on shady Iraqi fixers, shake in the Al Gore Global Warming Crusade Circus and, finally, cover it all with an almost obscene worry about ratings. What that leaves us with is a final mess of laughable news that no one really feels like watching. (Um, except for the millions who still tune in every night.)

Would showing soldiers getting killed on TV be more of a service? Perhaps. Then again, the country made it through WWII without video from the field. And it spared us two-hour specials about journalists injured in the line of duty (you know, with the injured troops sort of thrown in for background material). I'd also point out that there are plenty of papers, magazines and blogs (some from people on the front lines) readily available for people hungry for more information. Heck, if you really want to see faces of war, you can check out the YouTube channel for MultiNational Forces Iraq for edited footage of allied forces shooting at buildings and riding in Hummers. Or, if you want actual bodies, surf YouTube enough and you'll find insurgent videos of snipers killing Americans. Those even have soundtracks and prayers!

But yes, Jack's right. The nightly news shows, considering they're using the public airwaves, should spend more time informing -- and I don't mean informing us about Anna Nicole's Baby Daddy.

Then again, it takes some nerve for people in the media-business-journalism end of the world to lecture the networks about puff pieces. Especially during upfront season, when our own journalists are trying to get something even close to resembling truth or useful information from an army of PR folks who insist that THIS is the best show ever or that, no, this network isn't worried at all about its recent ratings problems. And forget trying to get a clear answer about commercial ratings (which is probably due to all-around ignorance of what's really going on) or what's actually being spent in the upfront (a number that changes with whichever analyst is doing the guesstimating at any particular time).

And don't even get me started on how healthy your print/radio/mobile/TV venture is and what an exciting time it is for everyone. You know the drill. "Our magazine's fine. Yes we're killing the print version, but it'll continue online. Business couldn't be better!"

Puffery indeed.
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