A recent viral YouTube video captures a live interview between an MSNBC news anchor and former Congresswoman Jane Harmon, discussing the National Security Agency’s violation of personal privacy. However, the anchor interrupts Harmon mid-sentence, and in an urgent tone, announces “breaking news”; the arrest of Justin Bieber.
Under charges of drinking and driving, Bieber made headlines on countless news stations, while the Ukrainian people continued to riot against their President, the NSA continued to spy on the U.S. public, and possible terrorists at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics continued to pose a threat to its attendees.
The blame for this backwards prioritization can only partially fall on these news stations because, like any other corporation, these stations are out to make money by attracting viewers. The sad reality lies in the American public, who are more interested in hearing about the arrest of a famous pop star than something as seemingly distant as the Ukranian riots. Of course, generalizing the American people is ignorant, as many do care about important global issues, but a painful majority of people are drawn exclusively to these shallow stories.
Fixing such a deep-rooted problem in American society is no simple task and is not something that could possibly happen overnight. However, steps can be made to avoid mainstream media stations, and one step in the right direction would be to utilize online news sources.
Websites such as The Huffington Post allow readers to select their own articles, offering a range of news from entertainment to sports to politics. By offering readers a chance to select their own stories, they can satisfy their need for gossip columns while also educating themselves on the foreign events so often overlooked by televised news.
For a national privacy crisis to be pushed off-screen by a delinquent pop-star is simply embarrassing, but multi-faceted internet media is a step to aid a problem caused by both an old-fashioned, one-sided television and a society enchanted by the bravado of fame.