We’re seeing it again this week: The mainstream media’s seeming need to cover “stories” that are meant to get ratings before they are meant to deliver news on important matters; what Robert Reich, in the last post on this blog, called “the business of selling TV airtime for a network that doesn’t give a hoot about its supposed commitment to the public interest but wants to up its ratings by pandering to the nation’s ongoing desire for gladiator entertainment instead of real talk about real problems.” This week it was Obama saying that many Americans living in small towns feel “bitter” about issues and cling to guns and religion in response. The buzz word on all the pundit’s lips is “elitist,” which Jon Stewart made clear on The Daily Show on Monday.

It’s a never-ending issue that all people looking to actually get informed will have to deal with–this wading through of the easy-to-get mainstream media to find people tackling the real issues that matter, or should matter.

Hopefully this blog provides some of that. I feel fortunate to read the offerings of our contributors, of which Norman Solomon–a media critic and political activist–is one. In an interview he did recently with Pacific Sun, Solomon addressed (as he has done in many blog posts) many of the issues that stem from mainstream media, and how we all need to go about holding the stories that are placed before us up to a standard higher than mere entertainment. We need to search out the news that really matters.

About the recent coverage of the war in Iraq Solomon says, “In the last several months, there’s been a cyclical effect: News outlets say the war is receding as a political issue; the remaining Democratic presidential candidates say less about the war; journalists point to them saying less as evidence that the war is receding as a political issue. Meanwhile, in the words of a song that Donovan wrote 40 years ago, the war drags on.”

But he does not call for a complete dismissal of mainstream media: “I would say augment the mainline media with other sources and think for yourself. While my work is very critical of an outlet like the Chronicle or the New York Times, I also really urge reading them. It’s a contrast-and-compare issue.”

Obviously the most important part of that latter statement is think for yourself. We all need to take the copious amount of information provided to us in this electronic age and interpret it for ourselves. The important thing is to be open to more than just a couple of voices telling you what’s going on.


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