I am worried.
Well, of course I’m worried about global warming, the disappearing rain forest, war, society in general, but now, I’m worried about the media in this country. The NEWS (if you can call it that) media in particular. Of course, we all complain about the fluff pieces, the bias, the chit chat. Brni and I look at each other quizzically throughout every broadcast, no matter the channel, no matter if it’s local or national, and ask, “Is that news?”
But a news media that can’t figure out who’s important when they die? I mean, when people die that’s the biggest event of their lives. When people die, the impact of that death on those around them is great. And then there are those people who’s death affects many people in a profound way. The death of a world leader, a great scientific mind, a writer or artist…you get my meaning.
Recently, Molly Ivins died. She was a sharp wit, a cutting columnist, a populist in the truest sense of the word. She spoke her mind and did it out loud, in print and often. There has been a small stream of tributes to her in print written by journalists and other writers (Maya Andelou is one who comes to mind) and there were short, obituary mentions of her at the end of the national news broadcasts…you know, “And finally, we’ve lost a great blah blah…Molly Ivins died at her home…blah blah blah…and that’s the news for tonight…” Nothing more than a blip on the nightly news scene. Of course there was more, much more in print, but I’m not so worried about the print media. No, I’m worried about the television “news” that has become the way most people in this country are spoon-fed “information” about the world.
So now, the reason I’m writing this — Anna Nicole Smith died. And there’s helicopters and sirens and press conferences held by low level law enforcers, and an entire tv news magaziney show devoted to the life of this woman, and on and on…this woman who’s claim to fame was a good set of hooters.
Please, don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against this poor dead woman, and I’m sorry for her untimely death in the way I’m sorry for the untimely death of all living creatures. But why the excessive news coverage of someone I had to google to find out who she was? Clearly, I’m out of the pop culture loop as this woman was wildly famous. I mean, they had helicopters and sirens at her death and nary a peep at Molly’s. I mentioned Molly Ivins to people and they said, “Who?”
Apparently, what made Anna Nicole Smith famous was the fact that people talked about her a lot. She was an under-educated, bleached blonde in the tradition of the bombshell of the 50’s, but without the talent. And somehow, the media noticed her and kept noticing her even though her accomplishments were scant and she did not leave the world a better place.
And this is what worries me. Can we rely on a news machine that can’t even get death right? Death is such a big deal and there is no way around it and no legislation or social plan that will resolve it. Death is big. And the death of important people who make a difference in the world should be a bigger deal than the death of a bimbo. It’s just that simple.
So, in a small effort to bring a bit of balance to this sad state of affairs, I have listed below a couple links. First, is Molly’s last column. The one that I think, if Molly had lived to write more columns for us, might have started a groundswell of people hitting the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, “Stop it, now!” There are a few people around hitting the streets and making noise. In a column by Amy Goodman, she says,
“…Meanwhile, houston.indymedia.org announced the formation of The Molly Ivins Brigade, to protest the war with pots and pans.
I asked Molly about The Texas Observer. “As we watch the concentration of ownership of mass media,” she said, “it’s more and more important to keep these little independent voices alive. I think that’s where the hope of journalism lies.””
We need more people with pots and pans.
And here’s a link to a search of CommonDreams.org for Molly Ivins. It’s many many pages long, and should help balance things out. At least in my little blog.