Wednesday, December 12, 2007

CNN vs Fox News Channel

After watching both CNN and the Fox News Channel recently, I have decided that I definitely prefer CNN because it is nowhere near as biased as Fox News. I like to think that I am a pretty intellegent person and that I can figure out my opinions on my own. For that reason, I prefer CNN because I can get the facts and then come to my own conclusions on an issue. Also, I definitely do not agree with the conservative bias on the Fox News since I am extremely liberal. I personally think that Bill O'Reilly is a complete idiot and that he is just insane with some of the things that come out of his mouth. On CNN, however, I feel like I get more of a sample of both sides of the issue and that way I can make my own educated decisions regarding those issues. However, I do feel as though, at times, the broadcasting on CNN can be bland and the broadcasting on Fox News is more of an active, debate style. This is especially on shows like the O'Reilly Factor and Hannity and Colmes. But for the main reason stated above, I definitely prefer CNN.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Daily Show

Although The Daily Show has not had any new episodes recently due to the writers strike, when all the episodes were new, this was the source of news for many college and high school students. Jon Stewart is an energetic and entertaining host who blends just the right amount of comedy with actual news in order to keep the audience coming back for more. As a few of our most recent readings in The Politics of News book has pointed out, in order for the audience of this group to understand the jokes that are made, the audience must be educated on the news. Because of this, I believe that the people who watch shows like The Daily Show or The Colbert Report are extremely intellegent. However, not all the stories on these shows are for those intellectuals who might be watching.

Overall, I really believe that this type of news program is much more enjoyable then the normal nightly news because the normal nightly news tends to be bland, but Jon Stewart makes this program so entertaining. On YouTube there is a clip from The Daily Show called "America To The Rescue", in which Jon Stewart talks about American foreign policy and how our government solves all the international problems that exist. Basically, either by giving other countries money or weapons. Its a really funny clip, but it is informative at the same time, which is why The Daily Show is so successful.

December 5th, 6:30 NBC Nightly News

The NBC Nightly News was much more enjoyable for me because I felt as though I got to learn much more from the program than I did from the CBS local news. However, I noticed that the NBC Nightly news continued the trend of having the important stories come first and the "fluffier" stories come towards the end of the program. The first story had to do, ofcourse, with the shootings in the mall in Omaha, Nebraska, which was without a doubt the biggest story of the day. The second story had to do with the mortgage crisis that many people are going to experience, and Bush's plan to help by freezing the interest rates of some people. However, the pointed out that they arent helping people who need help the most. They are helping more of the middle group of people, who can pay their current rate but who would not be able to afford their mortgage if the rate went up. The third story, which I found to be extremely interesting, had to do with the Supreme Court and the current case they are looking at. The case is whether or not detainee's at Guantanamo Bay have the same legal rights as average Americans and if they should be able to get a fair trial, instead of being detained without being charged with a crime. The fourth story had to do with the defense secretary visiting Iraq and the fact that December 5th, was a violent day in Iraq. The last really major political story that was discussed had to do with Iran's situation with nuclear weapons and Bush's response to the reports that had come out earlier in the week regarding Iran.

After the first 5 stories came more "fluffier" stories. The first had to do with the damage in the Pacific-Northwest due to the storms that had hit there. Then the childhood obesity problem was discussed. The eighth story was about thr rise in the stock market and the ninth was about the risk of collisions on airport runways, which freaked me out but really didnt have much to do with the current political situation in our country. The last two stories were complete fluff. The tenth story had to do with the Polar Bear Knut's first birthday at his zoo in Germany, since the world adopted him when he was born and his mother abandoned him. The final story was a touching one about a getaway for all the children who had lost mothers and fathers during the war against terrorism, since they are able to understand one another and have all gone through the same thing.

Although I thought this was much better than the local news program from the same day, the final stories were definitely full of fluff, so I was slightly disappointed that it was not just hard, informative news.

December 5th, 5:00 PM Nightly News on CBS

On Wednesday, December 5th's nightly news on CBS at 5:00 PM, out of the 26 stories, only approximately 6 of them had to do with politics, whether state or local. Ofcourse, the news on December 5th was not typical, as it was the day of the "mall massacre" in Omaha, but I was shocked when the news began and it was not the first story. The first story had to do with shots being fired at Newark police, and this only goes to show that this is meant to be a local news program. Throughout the hour long newscast, they had the weather forecast 3 times, and the only other story they showed three times was to update the viewers on the situation in Omaha. 4 of the 6 more political stories occured during the first quarter of the news cast and included stories on the stock market rally, President Bush helping the mortgage crisis by freezing some interest rates, Bush and his reaction to the new releases about nuclear weapons in Iran, and whether or not America is ready for a mormon president. Towards the end of the program was a report on Princeton University subsidizing the price of birth control, since the price rose. The very last story which had to do a tiny bit with politics and the state of our country had to do with childhood obesity and its effects later in life. Although the last two stories arent overly political, they both have to do with some sort of health care in a way.

The end of the program really seemed to pour on the fluff in my opinion. For the last story, which was the health report on obesity and the flu, instead of being behind the newscaster's desk like normal, the two hosts of the program were sitting on comfy chairs, in more of a living room type setting. I found this to be almost comical because it was bringing a talk show aspect to the news. One of my favorites stories, even though it was complete fluff, had to do with the couple in California who got married and although began their first dance by slow dancing, the music suddenly stopped and Sir Mix-A-Lot's Baby Got Back started playing and they broke out into a choreographed dance. Then, the videographers of their wedding asked if they could put it on youtube, which they thought was a great idea so the family members of theirs who could not attend the wedding would be able to see it on the computer. After it was posted, the video spread like wildfire and has become one of the most popular videos on youtube. Most of these stories were definitely aimed towards the local crowds, with the most important news coming first and the fluff coming towards the end.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Rachael's Post on Evolution and Its Future in the Education of Texan Children

Tonight I read a post in Rachael's Blog about an op-ed piece in The New York Times from December 4th entitled "Evolution and Texas". The article is about Christine Comer, the former Director of Science of the Texas Education Agency, having to resign from her job because she forwarded an email about a talk by a professor who does not believe in creationism. I agree with Rachael's opinion on whether or not creationism and/or evolution should be taught in schools; however, Rachael seems to be much more tolerant of teaching creationism even though she does not believe in it. Her point of tolerance in learning both sides of the story is definitely valid, but creationism is not science, it is religion. Last time I checked, it was a science class, not a class in church. I definitely do not believe in creationism and I dont think that teaching proper science will be hurting the knowledge of children of religious Christians who believe in creationism. If evolution wasn't taught in schools, however, I really believe the knowledge of the children in those schools would be compromised. Also, I am not saying the creationism should not be mentioned at all, especially in extremely religious areas, but it should be mentioned minimally so that the view can be put out there but not discussed as one of the main topics of the class.

Even though what I am going to say next might offend some people, that is a risk I am willing to take. I am sick and tired of extremely religious people trying to force their views on everyone else. I don't like the fact that they want to teach creationism in school because that is what the bible says happened. I don't like the fact that they are trying to completely outlaw abortion and force women into having children, instead of letting women be free to make their own decisions about what is best for them. I don't like the fact that they disagree with gay marriages and are fighting to ensure that gay marriages wont be recognized, instead of being able to open their minds to people who are different from them, and allow those people to marry whomever they love regardless of gender. I am sick of them fighting against stem cell research, which could really help to be able to treat horrible diseases, because a fertilized egg is what they classify as a baby. I know that I am going on a bit of a rant, and I am not saying that religious people are bad people, but I really wish they would be open to the fact that not everyone in our country is the same as them. Instead of allowing the freedoms that people have to make their own decisions about their own lives, they believe that the bible should dictate the lives of everyone in the United States. Well I have to tell them that I don't read their bible, I don't live my life according to their bible, and I am not going to try to take their bible away from them. So why are they trying to limit my freedoms and the freedoms of my fellow Americans when we are not trying to limit their freedoms? It just doesnt seem all that open-minded to me.

In conclusion, I definitely agree with what Rachael said in her blog and I am glad I read the article.

Hannity and Colmes on Tom Tancredo's "Scare Ad" and Sexual Behavior in San Francisco

Tonight, as I was watching Hannity and Colmes on the Fox News Channel, they were talking about a lot of political issues when they came to the issue of Tom Tancredo's scare advertisements regarding illegal immigrants in the United States. Due to my interest in the topic, I went on you tube to find the ad in question and happened to find a clip from an older episode of Hannity and Colmes on which Tom Tancredo talks about the ad. After watching the ad, I found it quite disturbing and the fact that Tancredo backs it up so much concerns me. It appears as if he is saying that all illegal immigrants that enter our country are terrorists who are looking to kill Americans. He doesn't think that most immigrants are coming to our country in order to achieve the American dream, find work and make lives for themselves in our country.

Also on tonights episode they had a discussion about sexual behavior that occured at a street fair in San Francisco, on which their guest was an extremely conservative member of an interest group. The guest wanted to hold Nancy Pelosi responsible since it is her district and the group is disappointed that she had not spoken out yet about the event. The guest said that there were groups of men having orgies in the middle of the street fair and performing sexual acts on one another, also there were men and women dressed up in sexual costumes whipping one another. Hannity and Colmes both grilled the member of the group on the topic and at times made him look absolutely ridiculous for considering Pelosi as responsible for it (especially Colmes). Overall I found this program to be enjoyable with its high speed style of debate.

Media and Mis-reporting the Facts of Tragedy

Recently two major tragedies occurred, and because each media outlet wanted to be the first to report the "big story", there were many inaccuracies and misreports. The first tragedy was the death of Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor in his Miami home early last week. The second tragedy occurred today, when a man went into a department store in a mall and ended up killing 8 people and himself. It is extremely upsetting when reporters feel the need to report a story prematurely, before finding out all the facts, and upset their audience or make a tragedy seem much larger or smaller than it actually is.

As I was reading this weeks edition of Sports Illustrated Magazine, I came across an extremely interesting article about the misreporting that occurred surrounding Sean Taylor's death. Early in the morning on Monday November 26th, 4 young men planned to rob his home in Miami, FL, not knowing that anyone was home. As he and his wife heard noise outside of their bedroom, Sean grabbed a machete he hid under his bed and went to go investigate what was happening in his home, but he never made it out of the door of the bedroom. He was shot in the leg, which cut his femoral artery and by time paramedics arrived he had lost too much blood. Doctors did everything they could to save him but on the following morning, he passed away. In the days after the shooting, many media outlets began to report about Taylor's past, which had multiple run-ins with both NFL officials and police. However, his friends had reported that he was a changed man. Still, many in the media felt the need to taint his name and report that the shooting most likely had to do with the fact that he was a "thug", a stereotype usually associated with young, African American men. This idea upset many people who knew Sean Taylor, since they were close to him and the media wasn't. We have since learned that Taylor's past had absolutely nothing to do with the robbery, it was his wealth.

Today, as I was watching the 24-hour news channels, I saw reports of the shootings in the Westroads mall in Omaha, NE. As I watched, the reporters began to think about what could have caused the shootings, whether it was a domestic dispute or a disgruntled employee who had recently been fired. I know that the media's role in any tragedy is to begin to interpret the events so the audience has a feeling of comfort, but in my mind I tend to think: wouldn't it be better if reporters decided to wait for all the facts so they can provide their audience with an accurate story? As of the most recent reports, we have learned that the shooter was a young, emotional man who wanted to commit suicide and as he wrote in a suicide note "he wanted to go out in style". However, the media had many different reports regarding the shooter. First, police were still searching for him. Next, the police had a man in custody who they believed was the shooter but ended up not being the shooter. Finally, they figured out that it was a suicide. This information is misleading to the audience and this can be extremely dangerous.

I just hope that in the future, reporters make sure not to make any reports that either taint a victims name or that could put some body's life in danger if that are incorrectly accused of committing a crime.