Thursday, June 5, 2008

the Problem with Telling your own History: The Newseum

I went to the Newseum in Washington DC last weekend. For those that don't know, this museum, dedicated to the history of news media opened last month.

History is a bit of a stretch, since 95% of the content is from the past 65 years, but that's a minor point.

The exhibits themselves are quite visually stimulating, the technologically cutting edge and some of the display techniques rather innovative. From an experience standpoint, I'd say they earned my $20.

But what struck me repeatedly was how obvious it was that the members of the news media had created this museum to give accolades to themselves. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the world's spin-doctors have decided to put a little spin on their museum. But, if I didn't know better, after my visit, I'd be sure that if it were not for the media, all truth would vanish and tyranny would envelope the earth.

At the Newseum, you too can learn important life lessons such as:

The problem with the Soviet Union was that they did not have a free media.

The East Germans lived their lives solely to watch and listen to the Western Media secretly at night.

And the reporter who brought to light the Monica Lewinski scandal had performed a great service to America by shedding light on the truth.

I'm sorry, but I just don't see it. The boogie man is not trying to get me, and your reporting did not save me in the nick of time. You did not do the world a great service by bringing us the O.J. Simpson trial 24 hours a day.

The media exists only to sell advertising. And if you don't believe me, you've clearly never written a SEO article for a website, or read an advertising media kit for a magazine. Where were the exhibits on that I wonder?

Rather ironic that an outlet that promotes bias-free reporting of the truth would turn towards such shameless self-promotion.


hardyharhar said...

Your article's fairly good but you shoot yourself in the foot in the home stretch. Using Kevin Carter as an example without the whole story is more than a cheap shot.

"The media does not save the world. They watch other people do it."

In many cases it's a journalist or someone willing to speak on record to a journalist who gets the story out in order for a wider audience to know what's going on. In many cases, the story getting out is the first cog in the chain to actual action/resolution.

Sure there's many cases where the media is heavy-handed on very weak stories, but to paint it like you do is to do a disservice to the journos who really do some heavy lifting getting the important stories out which once known can spark a larger reaction.

hardyharhar said...

Whoops, sorry for the mixed metaphor: cog/chain