Filed under: Business + Politics, J840 Week 4, Society + Media | Tags: Elían González, infotainment, newsworthiness, objectivity, pundits
I remember the 2000 coverage of Elián González. Tensions between Cuba and the U.S. were at an all-time high. Miami, my hometown, was a boilerplate of emotions. The two points of contention were keeping the boy in the U.S. with relatives or returning him to his father in Cuba. Objectivity couldn’t be more of a challenge in a mix of a politics, family and a community of exiles. The media’s appetite for coverage, from repetitive television reports to endless magazine covers, made this case one as equally appropriate for media textbooks as for immigration law. At the center of it all was a border-less boy who went from an impoverished country to a yard surrounded by cameras and reporters. Do I even have to ask if the media fueled the controversy?
Video courtesy of http://www.youtube.com.
The media sets the tone for what the majority of us are aware of and concerned about. For the past week, it’s been Michael Jackson. There’s an adage about what’s left out of a camera shot being as important as what’s in focus. The same applies to reporting. What hasn’t been covered in the wake of what’s been deemed newsworthy? Consider the tenants of newsworthiness — timing, significance, proximity, prominence and human interest — and how they vary from publisher to reporter to reader/viewer. In a culture that’s become so audibly opinionated — blogs, social networks, reality TV — is objectivity even a consideration anymore? There are more pundits than reporters, more infotainment than investigation.
So, while journalists are charged as watchdogs, it’s up to the audience to judge if their sources have more bark than bite.
And, I wonder if, for fifteen-year-old Elián, America is synonymous with the flash of cameras?
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