The late New York University media scholar Neil Postman once said about America, “We are the best entertained least informed society in the world.” From Jessica Simpson’s weight and Brangelina’s escapades, to Britney Spears’ sister and the Obamas’ First Puppy, Americans are fed a steady “news” diet of useless information laden with personal anecdotes, scandals, and gossip.
Since the middle of the 1980’s, Project Censored at Sonoma State University has annually researched this phenomenon. We have found that topics and in-depth reports that matter little to anyone in any meaningful way are given massive amounts of media coverage in the corporate media. In recent years, this has only become more obvious.
For instance, CNN’s coverage of celebrity Anna Nicole Smith’s untimely death in early 2007 is arguably one of the most egregious examples of an over abused news story. The magnitude of corporate media attention paid to the event were clearly out of synch with the coverage the story deserved, which was at most a simple passing mention. Instead, CNN broadcast “breaking” stories of the event uninterrupted, without commercials, for almost two hours, with commentary by lead anchors and journalists. This marked among the longest uninterrupted “news” broadcasts at CNN since the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Anna Nicole Smith and 9/11 are now strange bedfellows, milestone bookends of corporate news culture. Continue reading