With the demise of Al Jazeera America in April, I am lost and saddened; with no viable news source other than the usual hot air and ego on cable or the incredibly superficial hash coming from broadcast networks. I am sentenced to Trump Trivia 24 hours a day with no end in sight (well, maybe November). Still, after the election, there will be other celebrities that our ratings obsessed stations can fawn over.
And that’s what it’s about -- celebrity. It’s about gossip. It’s about the lewd and the profane; it’s about reporting the most trivial remarks that require the dutiful and meaningless “apology.” About who said what to whom. It’s about the glitz and the sets and the perky weather girls, the strong jaw line and cute banter.
It is show biz, folks.
Carl Bernstein, one of our most respected journalists, has been aware of the lack of content from the news media for decades:
"In actually covering existing American life, the media--weekly, daily, hourly--break new ground in getting it wrong. The coverage is distorted by celebrity and the worship of celebrity; by the reduction of news to gossip, which is the lowest form of news; by sensationalism, which is always a turning away from a society's real condition; and by a political and social discourse that we-the press, the media, the politicians and the people-are turning into a sewer."
(The Oregonian, June 21, 1992).
And, it’s worse today by far.
The oil rich emirate of Qatar took a chance on us but it didn’t pay off financially – nobody watched. I should say, some of us watched, and re-discovered how satisfying investigative journalism can be. Staffed with hard-working American journalists from CNN, and the broadcast networks, Al Jazeera America filled a crucial void for many of us who are sick of the show biz approach to the news.
There is nothing that comes close to the last 2 ½ years of hard-hitting stories and the sharp, insightful features like Fault Lines and America Tonight – not cable, not BBC, not the DW from Berlin.
RIP Al Jazeera America. We will miss you.
Back to bland pap and regurgitated commercialism.