Friday, January 26, 2007

Local Media Musings

I'm sure everyone has heard the news that James Seale has been arrested and indicted here in Mississippi for the kidnapping of two black men in 1964. I, for one, am glad there were some good investigative journalists that helped Thomas Moore, the brother of one of the slain black men, push for some much needed justice. 40+ years is way too long to wait on justice, but thank God the wheels finally got rolling. Hopefully, with as strong a case as I hear it is, another cold case will be closed. My problem with this story has nothing to do with whats going on in the case. My problem is with the media. It seemed to me that many people in the local media are scrambling to pat themselves on the back for pushing this one through. True, certain members of local media helped locate the accused kidnapper, but jeez, take a step back. Maybe I'm just ignorant, but isn't the first duty of a reporter to report the news? The local media here has dug its claws into this juicy story and plastered it everywhere with "full team coverage." I know everyone will say, "Damn, Expatriate, your one cynical asshole," but I just find it kind of creepy to see everyone, in the local media, clamoring pin a medal on their chest for "righting what once went wrong," to quote Quantum Leap. What happened to "I was just doing my job?" Many members of the local media are infusing their ideas about policy, especially in prosecutions, instead of reporting policy and advocating from the sidelines. This is nothing new, though. Thomas Carlyle called the press the "Fourth Estate" referring to its ability to frame political and social issues for the public and providing a level of transparency in govnerment. I believe in this but I also believe the press and today's media, sometime like the spotlight for themselves.

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