By BREANA ROSS
The amount of times celebrities and politicians are deemed “newsworthy” for doing things that are completely normal, day-to-day actions is amusing. From attending baseball games to eating at a particular restaurant, anything politicians do that seems to remotely line up with the lives of “normal people” is attractive to the public.
Yesterday, Hillary Clinton made headlines for utilizing one of the most common forms of transportation in her home state: the New York subway.
Thursday morning, Democratic presidential candidate Clinton rode the train one stop from the Yankee Stadium at 167th Street up to 170th Street. News coverage included that Clinton’s metro card failed to work at first but she eventually was able to get into the station. She hopped onto the train, rode for one stop, hopped off, and proceeded to a nearby diner for dinner. Clinton’s experience is a normal, daily course of actions for many people. So why is it special that she is doing something that millions of Americans do everyday?
First of all, Clinton’s New York subway excursion was no accident or coincidence. Politicians pull stunts like this all of the time to show a sense of normality in their lives. They want to seem relatable to the average American. Clinton’s subway ride was not a spur-of-the-moment decision. It was a pry for publicity, a campaign stunt.
The media fell right into the trap. Clinton did something to portray that she is relatable to the American public and the news media was right there to cover it, as if someone riding the subway is “newsworthy.” Riding a New York subway still does not make Hillary Clinton relatable to the average person because if you or I were to take a ride on the train, there certainly would not be a team of news media there to capture the moment.
By BREANA ROSS
The idea that sea levels are rapidly rising and eventually will engulf most of the land that we call home is not exactly the most uplifting topic. Most people find the topic rather disheartening.
It’s one of those “what you don’t know won’t hurt you” topics. Yes, the truth can be disappointing but it is the job of the news media to tell readers what they need to know, even if it may not be what they want to know.
New findings about the dangers and speed of sea level rise were published this week. Reports revealed that melting ice in Antarctica could cause sea levels to rise by one meter, or three feet, within the next century. Factoring in melting ice all around the world, sea levels could rise five to six feet by the end of the century, making some areas impossible to live on.
So what makes this newsworthy? Why does the news media feel that readers and viewers should be aware of rising sea levels expected to occur in a century when we will all surely be dead by then?
The answer is simple. We, as humans, are the ones contributing to this problem. It is a domino effect. Every time we do something that harms the environment, we are contributing to the emission of heat trapping gases into the environment, thus contributing to the greater issue of climate change. As temperatures rise, so do sea levels.
The news media present us with this information to show the effects of our actions. Though we may not be alive to see and experience the effects of rising sea levels, the next generations will be. Our actions today are affecting how others will live in the future. Although rising sea levels seems to be a distant phenomenon that we do not want to think about, it is something we need to think about.
By BREANA ROSS
Constant public scrutiny should be added to the job description for the president of the United States. Part of being the face of the free world means being under the world’s microscope and subject to criticism for any little thing.
The latest criticism of President Obama from the news media stems from his choice to still go to a baseball game in Cuba, even as the Brussels attacks were happening.
Not long after bombs had blown up at an airport and subway station in Brussels, President Obama was enjoying a ballgame with his family and the President of Cuba, Raul Castro. The pictures of the president’s fun-filled day at the ballpark spurred controversy among Republican presidential candidates and within the news media. The main point of criticism is that President Obama should have returned home to help deal with the matter instead of continuing leisure in Cuba.
However, it is not like the president did not address the matter at all. President Obama made remarks about the terrorist attacks when he spoke in Havana on Tuesday. “What they can do is scare and make people afraid and disrupt our daily lives and divide us,” President Obama said as he explained his rationale for staying at the baseball game. “And as long as we don’t allow that to happen, we’re going to be okay.”
The real question is, what is it the critics wanted Obama to do in that moment? The attacks had already happened. There is nothing he could have done to change that and he addressed the matter through a speech, just as he would have done if he were home. There is really no reason for him to have been criticized, except that Americans need a scapegoat to criticize for everything. Being the president of the United States makes Barack Obama a perfect candidate.
The number of times President Obama’s face has appeared on the front of a magazine, newspaper, or website being criticized for doing something completely normal is infinite. The public eye is always watching and the news media always has something to say about the president’s behavior.
By BREANA ROSS
Most news viewers are aware that different news stations have different political views that affect the way they report news. MSNBC tends to lean more towards liberal and Democratic views while Fox tends to support conservative and Republican views.
The news from these stations is reported in such a way that reflects these views. For example, one MSNBC talk show host had no problem sharing her political opinion as she discussed her analysis of Donald Trump’s recent violent rallies.
After a series of clashes between protestors and supporters at Trump’s rallies, Rachel Maddow decided to break down the events on her MSNBC show. The way Maddow chose to discuss and present the information was an interesting approach. Her overarching point was that Donald Trump’s rhetoric during his rallies led to the recent outbursts in Chicago and elsewhere. Maddow takes many pieces of factual information and connects them together to support her opinion.
First off, Maddow points out that the last three stops on Trump’s campaign trail, Chicago, Cleveland, and St. Louis, all contain a great deal of racial tension. This tension stems from the recent police killings of unarmed black teens in these areas.
Maddow points out that many of the recent instances of violence at Trump’s rallies seem to be racially charged. She then begins showing clips from Donald Trump’s speeches at his rallies, where he calls for “a tougher America” where protesters should face consequences, possibly violent ones.
Trump also mentions that he would pay the legal bills for anyone who beats up a protester. Maddow uses factual traces of racial tension and clips of Donald Trump’s speeches to convince viewers of her opinion that Donald Trump’s rhetoric has led to the violence that has erupted between his supporters and his opponents.
Although Rachel Maddow is a talk show host and is allowed to insert her opinion in discussions about politics, her presentation of the information is an example of how news stations can present biased news. Connecting facts to form what is ultimately an opinion is dangerous when presenting news to viewers.
By BREANA ROSS
Donald Trump’s campaign for president started out as a mere joke to some, but not for him. People laughed and took a shot at guessing how long it would be until the radical billionaire would drop out of the election. It was even a joke to the news media, which made it a point to cover Donald Trump’s latest offensive comment or outlandish statement every single week.
Whether it was negative publicity or not, Donald Trump was getting publicity. Publicity that would seem to have discouraged voters from supporting Trump actually helped to build his popularity. Now here we are, just days after Super Tuesday, and it appears as though Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee for president of the United States.
From name-calling to false accusations, Donald Trump made his way into the news media spotlight right from the beginning of the campaign. At the beginning, it was his comment calling Mexicans “rapists” that sent the news media into an uproar. Then it was his statements on his plans to require Muslim-Americans to register with a government database and carry around identification cards that brought him to the center of media attention.
While the Trump’s constant news media coverage seemed to just point out his extreme views and that he was unfit to be president, it actually helped him in the long run. Trump was getting attention and publicity that no other Republican candidate was receiving. When you turned on your television to a news station, chances are Trump was the first face you saw.
The news media actually helped increase Trump’s popularity by covering him so much.
Now, as the campaign gets down to the wire, the news media have switched their approach with coverage of Trump. The news media are starting to portray Trump as a true presidential contender and focus more on the Republican Party’s plan to stop Trump from getting the nomination. Information about Republican senators’ ideas on how to stop Trump from getting the nomination are starting to surface. It is becoming a reality that Trump could actually be the Republican nominee.
In retrospect, Donald Trump’s case shows how crucial the news media are when it comes to swaying the public. When the news media constantly cover someone, it forces people to pay attention to them and form an opinion about them. Donald Trump’s case is also a prime example of the popular phrase, “No publicity is bad publicity.”
By BREANA ROSS
From his rants on Twitter, to his relationship with Kim Kardashian, to his $53 million debt after the release of his new album, Kanye West seems to always make headlines. Two weeks ago, it was his Twitter spat with rapper Wiz Khalifa that sent social media users into a frenzy. Then it was an offensive lyric against Taylor Swift in his new album that even earned a response from Swift at the Grammy’s. Now it is his feud with music producer Bob Ezrin.
Ezrin denounced Kanye West in an essay for The Lefsetz Letter when he wrote, “Unlike other creators in his genre … it’s unlikely that we’ll be quoting too many of Kanye’s songs 20 years from now. Kanye’s greatest achievements have been in the form of excessive behavior, egomaniacal tantrums and tasteless grandstanding.”
This sent Kanye West into a Twitter rant about Ezrin’s lack of “connection with anything” and irrelevance to the music business. But doesn’t Bob Ezrin have a point here? Every time Kanye West is involved in a dispute or a tantrum, which seems to be quite often, the media is all over it. Why is that?
Most people know by now that Kanye West is an interesting character who never fails to brew drama, whether it is on Twitter or on live music award shows. He is a controversial figure and that’s the thing that makes him a media magnet. Whether we love Kanye West or hate him, we want to see what outrageous thing he is doing or saying next. Right when we tune in to a media outlet to see the latest Kanye spat, the media has achieved its goal.
The news and entertainment media have grabbed our attention. Whether it seems like pointless news or not, the media have got our eyes and ears. So, yes, there are plenty of things we need to know that supersede Kanye West’s latest ventures but by giving that type of news attention, we give media outlets the impression that that is the type of news we want to hear.
By BREANA ROSS
Under the dim lights of the stage, multiple black figures immersed from the darkness in a straight line. As the figures became closer to center stage, it became apparent that they were shackled, chained together. Even closer, it became visible that the figures were dressed as inmates. They continued to walk in unison, closer and closer to full visibility, until the leader of the line reached the microphone that waited in the center of the stage. The head of the line was award-winning rapper Kendrick Lamar and he was about to deliver a controversial, political performance on one of the largest music stages in the world: the Grammys.
Lamar, a popular African American rapper known for his songs about the struggles within the black community, delivered a powerful performance with many messages about racial injustice, African American heritage, and self-hatred intertwined. The performance began with Lamar and his background dancers in chains and dressed as prisoners while he rapped his song “The Blacker the Berry” which discusses oppression issues surrounding the Trayvon Martin case. Lamar rapped, “You hate me, don’t you? You hate my people. Your plan is to terminate my culture,” among other lyrics.
As the mood of the performance shifts, Lamar and his dancers drop their chains and begin to dance. Lamar then walks on to another set on stage with African dancers around a fire and begins to sing, “We gon’ be alright,” a lyric form another one of his popular songs. He ends the performance alone on stage, once again, rapping about racial injustice and oppression towards African Americans as an image of the continent of Africa with the word “Compton” written inside appears on a screen behind him.
Any time an artist, politician, or anyone for that matter, has the courage to speak on an issue of race on such a large stage, it is a hit or miss with the news media. Some times the individual receives enormous praise in the media while other times there is major backlash. In this case, Kendrick Lamar’s Performance was raved about within the media.
USA Today and the Los Angeles Times called Lamar’s performance “the only one that mattered.” CNN and many other popular entertainment news outlets covered his performance, all in a positive light. However, this positive reaction by the news media is drastically different from the reactions spurred by Beyonce’s Super Bowl performance.
Beyonce’s Super Bowl performance was also an attempt to bring light to the struggles of African Americans, but using a different approach. Beyonce’s back-up dancers all sported “Black Panther” attire as their outfits for the performance. Although a subtle message, this sent the media into a frenzy over Beyonce’s intentions. Some claimed the bold move was racist and anti-police.
Others connected the Black Panther reference to support for the Black Live Matter movement. Regardless, the media picks and chooses which racial messages to accept and which to reject. When one decides to discuss the “race issue” on a world stage, there is a risk attached, one that can impact the favorability of the artist in the eyes of the media.
By BREANA ROSS
When the final seconds on the clock ran out at Super Bowl 50, not everyone was smiling and celebrating. The CBS Sports camera switched from an excited, smiling Peyton Manning to a devastated Carolina Panthers player. This player was Cornerback Josh Norman and he was less than thrilled by the outcome of the game. The camera zoomed in for a close-up shot as Norman bawled into his hands, realizing his hope of winning the Super Bowl had now vanished.
As soon as the camera showed Josh Norman, devastated and in tears, everyone with whom I was watching the Super Bowl yelled, “Why are they showing him like this?” and “They should leave him alone!”
To an average viewer, it seems outrageous for the news media to show someone in such a state of distress, especially someone normally portrayed as tough. In many ways, it can appear disrespectful and even invasive for the news media to have a camera in the face of someone who is crying. After all, the news media could have shown other members of the football team who were, perhaps, not quite as upset as Josh Norman. However, as a journalist, I began to reflect on the other side of the argument.
The goal of the news media is to show a story from as many aspects and angles as possible. Only showing the excited and celebratory Denver Broncos players would only be showing half of the story. In any championship game, there are winners and losers. As much as people want to see the reactions of the winners, they also want to see the reactions of those who lost. Josh Norman’s reaction was a visual manifestation that summed up the emotions of most players on the Carolina Panthers team, thus golden for the news media’s coverage.
By BREANA ROSS
Much like Ferguson and Baltimore, Flint was a city plagued with crime and challenges that was forgotten by its own nation until tragedy struck and lives were lost or endangered.
This time, however, lives were not lost at the hand of a law enforcement officer exerting illegal force. Lives were lost at the hand of the State of Michigan, which failed to meet a basic need of its residents: clean and safe water.
This week, in the latest in a long series of developments in the story, news reports are saying Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration knew of potential links between the Flint water problems and Legionnaires’ disease.
Two years ago, city officials decided to switch Flint’s source of water from the Detroit River to a new system that would not be ready for use for two years. In the meantime, the government decided to use the water from the Flint River as the city’s source. The highly corrosive river water transported by the city’s lead pipes produced contaminated water in the homes of Flint residents. Although tests proved otherwise, the city and state governments assured residents that the water was safe and drinkable.
Now, two years later, residents of Flint have fallen ill. Flint’s water issue has gone from local media coverage to national and even international coverage.
The media coverage of Flint focuses mainly on what went wrong and images of the water itself rather than on resolutions of the problem. Many of the news stories on Flint show visual footage of the toxic, brown water coming from resident’s tap. They also explain the failures of the state and local government that lead to such a catastrophe. Residents tell of the unwanted changes in their lives.
While these are very important components to the story, I think the more important question is how this problem will be solved. Although the media have shown large donations of bottled water going to Flint, that is only a short-term fix. The media should focus more on when and how the lead pipes carrying the water will be replaced and how the work will be funded.
There should be more of a focus on how the problem will be fixed in the long run so that a crisis like this never happens again.