National news media picks wrong stories

James Everetts

As an aspiring reporter, I have been asked a million times, “What is news?”

Yet, despite being put under the gun on so many occasions, I fail to fully understand how this country pieces together its news priority list. Take last week, for instance.

A man in Naples, N.Y. won a million dollars in the lottery. He’ll receive an annual check for $50,000 for the next 20 years. Problem is, he just happens to be dying of lung cancer, and the state refuses to speed up the payments so that he can pay for better health insurance.

Then there’s Ohio native Tracey Stovall, an employee of the Aspen Woodside Village retirement home. Stovall was arrested last week when the 84-year-old man she had shoved to the ground later died from his injuries.

Or how about private contractor Donald Tolfree, whose was gunned down by U.S. forces in Baghdad after he mistakenly joined the wrong convoy line and crossed through a checkpoint. Tolfree had been in Iraq just over a month when he was killed, and leaves behind a wife and daughter.

Now these stories may be interesting, but they were nowhere close to the front page. No, last week every newspaper and television station in the country was blanketed with two stories that featured strange twists to otherwise boring tales.

First we had astronaut Lisa Nowak driving across country – yes, in a diaper – only to fail in her attempt to kidnap another female astronaut in some strange love triangle. Seeing as most of the free world is pretty well versed on this story, I’ll simply remind you that it remains near the front page in most papers.

Then you have the “disheartening” death of Anna Nicole Smith, a woman whose legend can basically be described as a large chest and a taste for near-death billionaires. Another case of a no-talent celebrity whose life ended before the general public could forget it had even existed in the first place. This story also remains near the front page, despite any evidence of foul play.

So maybe I’m way off here, but doesn’t it seem as though the media’s priority list at least a little off? Are pellet gun wielding trekies and Playboy has-beens really the best we have to offer the American public? Worse yet, is that really what people want to see and read?

If that is the case, maybe we should just shut down “60 Minutes” and the New York Times and leave the news up to “Entertainment Tonight” and “A Current Affair.” I’m sure their coverage of the Smith and Nowak stories was nothing less than incredible.

Of course, I understand that news must be entertaining, and there apparently isn’t much in this country more entertaining than diapers and double-D’s.

Too bad we can’t apply such silly traits to lottery-winning cancer patients or run-of-the-mill contractors who die trying to rebuild a country.

James Everetts is a broadcast news major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].