I remember when public airwaves were made available for public good, to inform us about what was going on in the world, not to tell us what we were supposed to think about it.
The celebrity culture of broadcasting has changed this, combing news and editorial comment (My Two Cents, et al.), along with the view that news organizations are a kind of extension of the Chamber of Commerce, defending the state’s reputation as a great place to live and do business and to dismiss outside criticism as peculiar, deranged or downright unpatriotic.
After the recent tragic shooting in Duncan of an Australian baseball player by three students who apparently were bored, the story quickly became about the comments by a former Australian prime minister, who said that America is a dangerous place to live and visit because we are a society drowning in guns. Instead of asking how this happened and how we might prevent it from happening again (which, painful truth be known, cannot avoid the subject of guns), local media took turns smearing Tim Fisher’s reputation. What if he’s right?
In the wake of the unfolding OSU football scandal, local news pundits made the story about Sports Illustrated and the credibility of sources, spending time and money chasing down former players, coaches and students to line up as indignant deniers of any and all wrongdoing in what looks and sounds like a mock trial by media celebs. Instead of asking questions about what college sports has become — a giant, amoral, frenzied money chase — we rail against the messenger for telling us the truth about football as our true state religion. Sports Illustrated has lawyers who would advise against publishing lies.
So what if it’s true?
Oklahoma City native Ed Shadid, whose family roots run deep in our red soil, recently announced his bid to be mayor of Oklahoma City. Immediately, media public defenders marginalized his campaign, to quote Mike McCarville, as “perhaps the most left-of-center political event in Oklahoma City mayoral history,” attended by radical subversives like union activists, Hispanic activists, Muslim activists and gay activists. He then trashed a performance poet, Lauren Zuniga, for being “ashamed of being from Oklahoma,” when obviously he wasn’t listening to her poem urging us to stay put and reclaim the common good.
What if McCarville is wrong?
May I offer a modest proposal to the local media? Please report the news, and trust the people to figure it out. A crime report with weather teasers and righteous indignation ad nauseam is not journalism; it is our deep insecurity masquerading as pride.
Rev. Robin Meyers, PhD, is senior minister of Mayflower United Church of Christ in OKC and Distinguished Professor of Social Justice at Oklahoma City University.
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