News Business is a Business
Austin Cline laments the fact that the news media is giving an “undeservedly large amount of attention” to the death of Anna Nichole Smith and the ensuing legal wrangling and to trivial matters such as Britney Spears’ decision to shave her head. While our politics are virtually 180 degrees apart, we agree on the relative merits of these stories.
The bottom line, though, is that the business of journalism is business. That for-profit businesses lead with the news that they believe, correctly it turns out, that their audience is most interested in should hardly be surprising. That’s how they sell advertising, keep and expand their audience, and ensure their employees can feed their families and pay their mortgages. The fact that “corporations are now pretty much in control of the network news divisions” is nothing new. Further, General Electric and Time Warner are more able to absorb losses than would be a small group of private owners.
More importantly, these fluffy stories pay for the stuff Cline and I find interesting. There’s hardly a dearth of good reporting on matters of war, international affairs, and domestic public policy. Indeed, there’s more of it than most of us can keep up with.