Week in Media: Rewind

by Matthew L. Schafer

The week in media has been one that will not be forgotten soon enough.  Rem Rieder at American Journalism Review said it best as he looked back on this week in media, “Time to Slow Down.”

Shirley Sherrod, Ezra Klein, Mel Gibson, Lindsey Lohan, Andrew Breitbart, Tucker Carlson, and Tom Vilsack et al. starred in one of the most impressively disheartening weeks in media in near memory.  Looking (unscientifically) at a quick glance at Google News’ numbers, it appears that the controversy of the edited Shirley Sherrod video posted to BigGovernment.com garnered over 5,000 articles in those publications cached by Google.  Mel Gibson’s numbers came in right around 2,000, while Sarah Palin must have had a rough week with the press as news of a camping trip with the reality star Kate Gosselin only garnered around 500 articles.

Although Ezra Klein’s defunct “Journolist” listserv played second fiddle to the Sherrod escapade in the political sheets, it managed to grab around 200 articles and the attention of many media insiders.  The “Journolist” controversy added fuel to the fire as the feud between the right and left extremes of the modern American “journalism” environment.  The controversy was so heated this week that the American Journalism Review warned of the ramifications of the rise of the “journalism-political complex.”

Always the optimists (or at least attempting to find some hope after a week that put the public’s respect for media just below it’s respect of an eighth grader), Rieder suggested that the tragedy of the media (mis)coverage may be beneficial “by highlighting (lowlighting?) just how absurd and untenable the current state of affairs has become.”  I am afraid that may be wishful thinking.

Indeed, this week the media fed insatiably on a woman’s dignity only to turn it into a political fight, before realizing that what the majority of outlets were alleging (and what the White House acted on when firing Sherrod) had no basis in reality.  As I wrote earlier this week, the current situation seems to be the result of the right and left factions of partisan journalism attempting to one up each other and gain the spotlight.

“While rays of light still remain, investigative reporting and quality journalism are ceding to increasing amounts of press grandstanding, press fraternizing, press posturing, and press aspirations for fame,” I wrote.  “This self-destruction of America’s Fourth Estate should worry all citizens.”

Monday, July 19, 2010: NPR Listeners Get a Sour Taste from the Media’s Obsession with Mel Gibson

Tuesday, July 20, 2010: The “Journolist,” When Press Desires for Personal Relevance Outweigh the Public Interest

Wednesday, July 21, 2010: Subpoenas Against Media Recently Top 3,000, It’s Time to Pass the Shield Bill SPJ Says

Thursday, July 22, 2010: Despite Growth in Ad Revenues, Broadcasters Tell FCC Ad Troubles Are Reason to Deregulate

Friday, July 23, 2010: My View: FCC Shoud Not Defend Discredited Media Ownership Rule

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About Matthew L. Schafer

Matthew L. Schafer graduated from the University of Illinois in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in Media Studies. He later attended Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communication where he earned a Masters of Mass Communication and Georgetown University Law Center where he earned his J.D.
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