Mason County News
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"I Missed That!"
Wednesday, October 7, 2009 • Posted October 7, 2009

In talking to other newspaper folks, one of the things that we often hear, and that baffles us, is, "Why didn't you have (FILL IN THE BLANK) in the paper?"

There are times this is legitimate. We didn't know anything about the event because no one got us any information! We don't publish civil trial matters! We are waiting on more information before putting something in!

Other times, it absolutely amazes me to find out that someone thinks we've not covered something, when in fact, it is right there on the page.... with a photo.... and a big headline. I think, too often, if it doesn't look like we were expecting it to, we scan right over articles and photos until someone points them out to us.

Just as often, I find out that someone is calling to complain about something that wasn't in the paper; but, they haven't actually looked for it yet, themselves. Someone else told them they didn't see it, so they called to complain, only to discover that it was on page 5A, just below the Lion's Roar.

It's not just us that has this problem. Several times a week, I'll get emails that contain stories of a local, state or national incident, and it always begins the same way.... "I wonder why this wasn't covered by CNN or FOX or CBS, etc."

Oddly enough, some of the stories actually contain the reporter's byline, showing that it DID come from one of the major news services. Just as often, I can search any of their websites and see that they ran the story, put it out for their online readers, and still have it available for reading.

The modern media is on a never-ending feeding frenzy. The problem isn't that they don't cover THE story, it's that they cover ALL the stories. They report on the cubachabra in Blanco with the same zeal they use when reporting on IED violence in Afghanistan. We get just as much information about Sonya Sotomayor as we get about Mel Gibson.

Everything has become news, and everyone is a newsmaker.

I partly blame the move to "reality" television. Reality shows were Hollywood's response to the writer's strike. They had no scripts, so producers found projects that didn't require scripts, and often, not much talent. Forget everyone having their 15 minutes of fame, now everyone can have their own half hour reality show.

The criteria for being famous isn't what it once was. Paris Hilton is famous for being a rich child with a well-known last name. Richard Hatch walked around naked on a beach; but, because he won Survivor, we also know his tax woes. Adam Lambert came in second on American Idol; but, we know his name because of his mascara! The criteria for being famous is not as tough to meet as it once was.

And the problem it has caused it that we have sensory overload. We have LOTS of news channels, LOTS of internet sites, LOTS of magazines, LOTS of news sources. And yet, we only see the stories we want to see, we ignore the ones we don't want to acknowledge, and we blame others for not having gotten us enough information, or for giving us only one side of a story.

We're adults. We're fully capable of researching, investigating and processing. If you don't have enough information, it's only because you haven't sought out enough sources. If you think something sounds wrong, ask some questions and find out more information.

In the end, each of us benefits from making ourselves as informed as we possibly can.

It’s all just my opinion.

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