Sunday, August 07, 2005

Misguided Focus

If you've even flipped past cable news in the past few months you know the inappropriate amount of airtime a certain news story has received and how it has been:

twisting traditional notions of news judgment and becoming Exhibit A in the media's fascination with missing people - as long as they happen to be young, white, female and pretty.

: I was pleased to see a story examining the lack of actual news value of the coverage, and unhappy to hear that it appears to be catalyst for Greta Van Susteren's recent ratings victories. In the big picture Van Susteren's focus is completely misplaced:

With war and terrorism in the news, critics wonder how one missing person case can so dominate a news program. Even on the night President Bush nominated John Roberts to the U.S. Supreme Court, "On the Record" spent far more time on Holloway.

Her name came up 178 times during a computer search of "On the Record" transcripts from the past two months, only seven times for the same period on Keith Olbermann's "Countdown" on MSNBC. The count was 434 times for Fox's three prime-time news shows; 50 for CNN's.

: Now compare the number of people effected by this story with, say the London bombings which have changed speech laws in the UK and prompted random bad searches in the New York subway. Or consider the decades of influence that Roberts' could have if he reaches the Supreme Court. It's just mind boggling that involving one person could deserve so much attention given that no one watching will likely have any effect on the case since it's taken place in another country. The sad thing is that Van Susteren has nothing on Nancy Grace (who never met a person who wasn't guilty). TV news can be a scary place.

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