Friday, June 21, 2013

If it leads, it bleeds

*CURSE* the American commercial news media anew today as stories of an altercation between League City Councilmen Okeeffe and Becker spread widely on GCDN (paywalled), Chron, FOX, KHOU, a few out-of-state sites such as this one courtesy of the AP, and gosh knows where else. 
Obviously my post title is a punny play on words which acknowledge that, in this case, it was the leaders who ended up bleeding rather that a simple bleeder who ended up leading the evening news in what has come to be characteristic vacuous style. 

Screengrabbed from this NPR piece which explores some of the ethical issues. 
I say *CURSE* because this is yet another example of the media reporting superficial bullsh*t instead of the meaningful backstories that likely underpin that bullsh*t and which might have even prevented some of that bullsh*t had they been properly exposed in a timely manner as is the media's ethical function in society! 

Thomas Jefferson said it first and in general terms, and I've said it before, and I've said it very recently within the context of League City's affairs:  this municipal store is not being properly minded, and when that happens, all hell is guaranteed to break loose.  The only questions are when and in what specific forms. 

But rather than focusing on the non-minding, the news media focuses on the hell - in the race for meaningless HTML clicks, the meaningful investigation doesn't happen very much anymore.  An opportunity for presentation of actual content is superseded by a vacuous vignette of voyeurism.

And then to make matters even more ridiculous, they don't even do a proper job of investigating the hell breaking loose!!  So Okeeffe and Becker apparently decided to exchange blows, and based on current vacuous voyeuristic vignettes, the key word there is exchange, meaning, neither the news nor the police citations suggest that either man was disproportionately at fault.  OK, if that's the case, why wasn't this considered to be an incidence of mutual combat, which is legal as I understand it?  Maybe there were extenuating circumstances which warranted the police citations, but my profoundly important point is we'll never know under our present bottom-feeding news media reporting standards!!

The whole thing is disheartening, but I'm trying to look on the bright side: maybe this incident will now - FINALLY - push a real investigative journalist to take a closer look at what happens in League City.  Maybe someone can leverage this punch line as a hook that justifies closer examination. (Hint for any professional journalist who considers doing this: Lead your stories with anecdotal reference to Wednesday's fisticuffs which will then get you the clicks you need while at the same time having your supplemental content actually fulfill a supportable journalistic ethic).  And if that closer look does happen, maybe we'll then start seeing some of the real League City issues come to light where they can be hashed out and resolved, thereby lowering fist-clenching tensions for all involved. 

And oh - that "Hall of Shame" label that I placed on this blog post?  That's not intended to apply to Okeeffe and Becker, whose altercation appears to have been executed in fairness.  That's intended for the news media, whose execution was not

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