The failure of the corporate news media

The recent excessive coverage of President Ford’s death (two front-page stories related to Ford almost every day for a week) has led The WEB to question whether or not our news media is doing a good job. As we have lately noticed, the front page seems to have much less hard news than it should, and is instead filled with soft, heartfelt human interest stories. While these stories are a good read and have their place in the paper, they should not be located on the front page. Examples of this are even more noticeable on the cable news networks. Fox News and CNN both covered the climbers on Mt. Hood and the story of the two kidnapped boys nearly 24 hours a day. In their own way, both of these stories are news, but there are far more important things going on in the world. Yes, it’s sad that climbers died. Yes, it’s sad that those two boys were kidnapped. But the boys especially should be left alone by the media. It will not help their situation any to become nationally recognizable victims. This coverage wouldn’t be so bad if there weren’t so many other newsworthy things going on. When the Somali capital fell to Ethiopian forces, the story was stuffed deep into the paper, and few people read about it. Another story that doesn’t get nearly enough coverage is the genocide happening in Darfur. To date, 400,000 people have been killed in the genocide, and 2.5 million have been displaced. The genocide is just one of a multitude of problems in Africa that deserve our attention. In 2004, Africa had an estimated 200,000 child soldiers involved in conflicts. Every day, 6,600 Africans die of AIDS, 3,000 Africans die of Malaria, and 24,000 Africans die of hunger and poverty. Perhaps many of these subjects aren’t covered because they qualify as international news. There are countless other outrages that deal directly with the United States. New Orleans is still in shambles, and reconstruction is going far slower than it should be. In Guantanamo Bay, detainees have not been given prisoner of war status or brought before a competent tribunal to have their statuses determined, which means that the United States is breaking international law. How many people read in the paper that while depressed American zoo animals are given Prozac, poor Zimbabweans are forced to eat dog food to get any sort of meat. We should read about things like this, be disgusted, and do something about it. Instead, we talk about how sad it is that a president who pardoned not only a crook, but an outright war criminal, lived to the age of 93 before passing away. The WEB realizes that our paper is not exactly full of hard-hitting stories, but we believe we have a different role as a newspaper. Since the shortest time between issues is three weeks, it is difficult for us to have timely content. As a high school newspaper, we also feel that it is our role to focus more on local issues. We acknowledge that we do not meet the standards we would like other news media to meet, but we also recognize that we are still students. We try to choose stories that relate to Ames High and its students, although we do have some national content. We believe that very few people read The WEB to inform themselves about world issues. Millions of people, however, look to Fox News and CNN to become informed, and we feel that these networks–as well as many printed publications–are letting their subscribers down.