Media: The "Not Really News" News Stories
Ever since I started trying to get the press to help me investigate this Junker thing, I’ve been wondering how “professional” journalists decide what they will and will not cover. It’s a mystery to me why the press will refuse to print or even investigate some apparently important stories—and at the same time give prominent coverage to stories that aren’t really news at all.
Below are examples of what I’m talking about, all drawn from a single day’s headlines on March 7th, 2006. These headlines were all run at the same hour on that particular day. None of these stories really report anything new; no shocking revelations or new developments here--but according to the wire services they were all deemed “newsworthy.”
US knew about al Qaeda in 1990s, FBI agent says - 56 minutes ago
That rates a headline? Well, no shit, Sherlock, ‘the FBI knew about al Qaeda in the 1990s’, how about that, let’s get that right out on the Internet in our top news stories of the hour segment. The FBI knew about Al Qaeda, the CIA knew, I knew, the Girl Scouts knew. The Clinton administration was trying to have bin Laden killed back in the 1990s; yeah, they knew about al Qaeda back then. Everybody knew—except, apparently the reporter who filed this story. It was “news to him.”
CIA says Libby defense could disrupt intelligence - 16 minutes ago
Well, yes, you could see how the Bush administration policy of blowing agent’s covers in order to punish its political critics could “disrupt intelligence.” Yes, I can see that; but is that “news?” I think most Americans would file that “startling realization” in their “common sense” file, not the “news” section. But it's “news to you”, eh, Mr. Editor?
Governors urge quick action on hurricane money - 38 minutes ago
Yes, yes, that’s a shocker, isn’t it? Six months after Hurricane Katrina, the governors still haven’t got their hurricane money, and the next southern hurricane season is only about four months away--so the governors are now urging “quick action.” “News” indeed! Quite “a startling new development,” that these governors want their money soon, eh? Actually, the “news” headline here, if the wire had been inclined to run one, would have read: “Six Fucking Months After Hurricanes, States Still Waiting For Emergency Funds.”
Rumsfeld sees potential for Iraq civil war - one hour ago
Oh, what a SURPRISE! Oh, you could have knocked me over with a feather, when I read THAT headline!
DeLay to Attend Lobbyists' Fundraiser - 3 hours ago
Amazing…simply amazing…who would have suspected that? Tom DeLay? Attending a lobbyists’ fundraiser? Wait til this story “hits the streets!” It’ll blow this town wide open! Do they have pictures, to prove it? Thank you for breaking that shocking story—newsmen.
Book Says Barry Bonds Used Steroids - one hour ago
Get outta this town! You’re shittin’ me! Barry Bonds? Using steroids? Jeez, I hope there’s some evidence to support that serious charge. Wait til people hear about this news story, some feathers will be ruffled when “the word gets out,” I assure you! Wow.
Senate Takes Up Bill on Lobbying Ethics - 17 hours ago
Well it’s about time, that’s all I can say to that! I was wondering if they’d ever get around to doing that, thank you, Associated Press and Reuters! Taking up a bill on lobbying ethics, eh? That will shake things up a bit, once that news gets around. And say—what about when the Senators talking about the new ethics bill get wind of your previous story, about House Republican leader DeLay is scheduled “to attend that lobbyists’ fundraiser.” Wow! The earth will shake! How do you guys get all these great stories?
And I’m not the only one who complains about the amount of news that’s not news being reported as news. I mean, you know that pre-Katrina meeting videotape that the AP released, the one that shows Bush receiving repeated warnings that the levees were in danger of breaking and shows him telling all the officials present that his administration was fully prepared for the disaster? Right after that videotape was released to the public a White House spokesman dismissed its importance, commenting: “There’s nothing really new here.” And you know—he was right,there's nothing new there, Bush has been lying to us for more than five goddamn years.
Nothing new there.