Most of it's boring business-speak, but there are a few telling bits. Shall we quote them? We shall!
People go to stock car races not so much because they want to watch it go around and around and around. They go to see the car crash. We're reporting on certain pieces of news, news that people may not like, and they may call it negative, but it gets people to respond, to clean up, to take an active role in their community.Well, what an enlightened approach to news reporting! I've never heard anything like that before!
Okay, I have. But it's usually used as a derogative way of describing the pathetic state of news reporting. Bragging about it is a touch bizarre.
Now, he's probably right that people go to stock car races for the crashes. But that's a fucking stock car race! Its primary purposes are to entertain rednecks and to sell advertising space!
The Sentinel, on the other hand, is a newspaper (albeit a poor one). Its purpose is ostensibly to inform people about the news, not to entertain them with fiery crashes and traumatic head injuries.
Now, I can't claim to have watched sports reports about stock car racing, but my bet is that they tell you about more than just the crashes. No doubt certain crashes are mentioned, but I'm willing to wager that they also tell you about who won the race, maybe some of the tactics, maybe some analysis of the flow of the race itself, et cetera. Which I guess makes them more newsy than our local paper, which only cares about the crashes.
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not opposed to reporting on negative things. If anything, I think the media is too timid about doing so (when's the last time you saw a war photo in a newspaper that actually conveyed the horrors of war?). But it can't be your only focus, and it can't exist in a vacuum. You need context or these sorts of stories are both misleading and pointless.
Sure, you can run your depressing stories like "A Family's Christmas Nightmare". But while a family getting robbed of its hard-earned XBox 360 and Video iPod does indeed suck, you've got other families out there who didn't get robbed because they had nothing to steal.
Do those families not have nightmares too? When you can't even consider pricey electronic gifts because you're struggling to figure out how to both heat your home and feed your kids this month are you not newsworthy?
No, you're not. Not for the Sentinel, at least.
It's not sexy to suffer from complicated societal ills. There's no car crash moment in slowly wasting away. There's no easily identifiable burglar to demonize when the whole system is at fault. So your problems aren't going to be in the paper. Sorry about that!
How about the assertion that this negative focus "gets people to respond, to clean up, to take an active role in their community"?
Well, it's bullshit. Going back to the car crash analogy, what role does the average citizen even have? I'm not a doctor, I'm not a fireman, I can't fix cars. It's a one-time event that's responded to by the people best suited to respond to it. If anything, these stories give people a feeling of helplessness. That the world is rough, but that they can't really do anything about it.
What we really can do something about are those bigger context-laden stories (the ones that don't get reported because they're not sexy). You know, big issues like poverty and homelessness and suffering. They're things that take a lot of people doing a lot of work to really make a dent, but they're not dramatic.
And if they don't get reported on, they're not even visible problems to a lot of people.
So there you have it. The Sentinel will start giving a shit about you and me just as soon as something exciting (and terrible) happens to us. If you're slowly starving to death or something, don't look to them for help. It's just not car-crashy enough.