This morning I did the usual. I woke up at least an hour before the crack of dawn. I did the usual get up and get ready for work routine with a shower, shave, and shine. I meandered up the steps, turned the television on, and started making my breakfast. Things have been extremely busy lately and the Peacemaker family hasn’t had much of a chance to do any grocery shopping. So my choices were pretty limited. I settled for a bagel and a vanilla protein shake made with orange juice.
My usual morning television fare consists of news. I had just missed the CBS network news and had to settle for the local news from KMOV-TV Channel 4. Here in St. Louis, Missouri the only network news available after five in the morning is ABC. But their commercials are so peppered with previews from Maury Povich with his investigative reporting looking for baby daddies. The previews show women devastated from the news that some man is not the father of her brand new baby. The previews are full of over the top urban drama. It’s hard to take the news from such a network that would tout such garbage seriously. I make it a point to avoid such dishonest social programming.
Bagel and shake in hand I sat down at the kitchen table and fired up the laptop. I had just started surfing the net when news anchors Virginia Kerr and Mark Cox concluded their story about an overnight fire at an abandoned building and started their next story about a new cell phone being sold at Wal-Mart stores. It was a prepaid cell phone available for the unbelievable prices of just thirty dollars with no commitments. After a couple more sentences about the phone, the two anchors started their fill the empty space banter about how the phone was such a good deal and how they planned on getting one. And this was news?
For more than the past year I have had a pay as you go Net10 cell phone that I purchased from Target for the unbelievable price of just thirty dollars. The phone came with no contract commitment and I can purchase additional time by going back to the Target or by visiting the Net10 website. Buying time for my phone runs for a flat ten cents a minute. However, about two or three months ago the Target store was discounting the phones and the previously thirty dollar cell phone was going for less than twenty four dollars. This was perfect timing because I had recently lost my phone charger and to buy a new one was going to run fifteen dollars. I could buy a new phone that comes with a charger for twenty four dollars, and each new phone came with three hundred minutes. I bought the last three phones the store had and put them away. I used the activation code for the new phones to keep my current phone running. I now have three spare phones, three spare battery chargers, and three spare batteries if I should ever need them. Sweet!
Like I said, that was several months ago on a phone that I had originally purchased well over a year ago. What KMOV-TV was trying to break as something news worthy was hardly such. It was little more than a veiled commercial for Wal-Mart delivered by their two top morning news anchors and wrapped in the credibility of the local news. I was appalled and disgusted.
This evening I came home in time to watch The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on the local Public Broadcasting Service channel. One of their stories was the continued decline of newspapers and news programs. The first thing that popped into my mind was the dribble about the new Wal-Mart phone being pushed on people by the two news anchors I caught earlier. The Channel 4 News team is often touted in commercials as the news team that the public can trust. The commercials never say what the public can trust them with. I guess we can trust that Channel 4 stands ready to sell their image to any corporation ready to pay. The whole affair was just more confirmation that a great deal of today’s news is biased and corrupted by corporate dollars.
KMOV-TV just made a healthy investment to re-brand its morning image as a more modern alternative to the same old behind the desk image of news that has become the staple of broadcast ever since television news was invented. News 4 Awake has the anchors standing in front of flat panel displays with a supposedly more improvised news delivery instead of the constant sticking to their writer’s script. No doubt, this is an effort to appeal to a more youthful television audience and protect market share.
But as news agencies continue to peddle themselves like whores on a corner to any corporate john willing to buy what they have to offer, people will continue to lose interest. People don’t want to watch the news to hear about some sale at Wal-Mart. What people are looking for from the news is news and information free of corporate contamination and corruption.
Had the two anchors admit that they were going to hang up their anchor hats and don their pitchmen clothes then the whole affair could probably be forgiven. I doubt if I would buy the Wal-Mart phone but at least they wouldn’t be trying to convince me that this was some kind of news story. This is the kind of investigative reporting you could expect from somebody like Maury Povich. It might not be the over the top type of social programming that comes from showing people’s paternity drama. But it is dishonest nevertheless. News 4 Awake is a prime example of the problems associated with modern journalism. Like most news organizations these days it is for sale to the highest bidder.