Sunday, April 03, 2005

Terri Schiavo

What is it about the Schiavo case that everybody is so interested in? What qualified it to be a major news story...for the networks to devote hours to her story? I've been thinking about this a lot lately and have come to the conclusion that it's not actually a major news story...despite what you may see on the news.

Being connected to a feeding tube isn't news. Neither is dying (despite what I may have been told in journalism school). It's not even really an assisted-suicide issue because what happened to Schiavo wasn't assisted suicide. Had she had a living will, dictating that her feeding tube be removed, there would have been no legal reason to keep her alive. A recent Canadian case, where a terminally-ill man wanted to kill himself, didn't get near the coverage that Schiavo did...and it was more of a story. The story didn't lie in her parents begging the government to save their daughter's life...just ask any parent of a death-row inmate how much the TV cameras care. What's interesting is that the story wasn't even a case of a popular uprising, where Americans en masse, demanded that Terri live. This story was self-servingly orchestrated by the religious right and then amplified by the media. What I can't believe is how many news organizations bought into it. This pack mentality is the second worst thing to happen to journalism (with media consolidation being the first) and nobody even seems to have noticed.

There were stories in the Schiavo case, don't get me wrong. A closer examination of the Bush brothers' capital punishment history butted up against their ridiculous comments about "erring on the side of life" might have been a good angle. But that's just me.

In other news, Alternet does it again.

No comments: