Tragedy or Football Highlights? You choose.

Today, the Indianapolis Star had a letter FROM the editor, Dennis Ryerson explaining/apologizing for putting Peyton Manning’s record-breaking performance from Sunday in the Monday morning edition of the paper, overshadowing the MUCH BIGGER story of the disastrous Tsunami which claimed the lives of over 100K people in Asia that same day.As I write this, I’m thinking back to cheering Peyton as he threw touchdown #49, breaking Dan Marino’s single season record of nearly 20 years. It truly was a great game and a momentous occasion in our professional sports culture.And at that point, the news reports that I had heard were just generalizing the disaster, the full scope of the loss not yet apparent, I think, until the Monday Morning Network News shows started to give estimates of the death toll.In fact, when I heard those reports on Monday, it broke my heart. I wasn’t up to the notion of playing any games with family or the like as we were going to do that morning. And I certainly wasn’t thinking about Peyton Manning. I just wanted to hear more and try to comprehend such a catastrophe.But today, as I read that half-assed apology/explanation from Ryerson, I became enraged. He writes:“The play of international stories long has been an issue for the American news media. Living in a country separated by vast oceans from so much of the rest of the world, Americans tend not to be as interested in international events as are people in some other countries. That lack of interest is reflected in news coverage.”I mean, do you REALLY believe that the media are just reflecting the greater desires of the public? Come ON!!! Americans tend to NOT be as interested in international events because we’re TOLD NOT TO by the media. “The lack of interest is” NOT “reflected in news coverage.” Instead, our long-standing cultural belief that if it’s in the NEWS (TV or Print) it must be legit, and as important or unimportant as the anchor or editor leads us to believe. Ryerson has the cart so far in front of the horse on this one, the horse is thinking the cart isn’t worth catching up with–ESPECIALLY if the horse has to tow that worthless cart.Ryerson’s apology is acceptable, but this paragraph rationalizing and pontificating WHY they went with the sports headline instead is absurd. It’s absurd because objectivity in journalism applies not just to the content of said topic but to the decision of which topics deserve priority over others in the delivery of their respective medium. And Ryerson admits he bit it on this, but then covers his divot with a pothole by patronizing us and passing the buck to the public’s “lack of interest” in international stories.I mean, death toll alone, we’re talking about FIFTY September 11’s in Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, Sumatra, and other countries that took the brunt of the Tsunami. And though hearing of the destruction that an “Act of God” (which is another Pandora’s Box of a conversation to be had elsewhere) has had on a people group doesn’t impact one like the a severe mass injustice of one people group upon another people group, in the end, it’s all the same–senseless waste of life that can’t be explained or justified. Senseless waste.And after a year of high profile journalists making careless mistakes I’d like to see them learn that while they hold the megaphone, people ARE going to listen. They need to take that platform seriously and bring the necessary content for us to choose just what is and what is not important. Keep the opinions & digressions to yourself and do your job.


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