My wife sent me a link the other day. The link was to a story about the October 2, 2006 week of Newsweek. As truthout.org states,
“Newsweek has scrubbed the cover of its United States edition for October 2, 2006. The cover of its international editions, aimed at Europe and other world regions, has maintained the original title of the story, “Losing Afghanistan.” The new cover for the United States edition features photographer Annie Leibovitz and is titled “My Life in Pictures.”
I found this infuriating and sent the following email to 30 people (it has been edited for space, if you would like the whole email just let me know):
“My Canadian friends say that Americans are seen as not paying attention to international affairs. They thought that Americans were distracted with material goods (cheap plastic crap sold at Walmart) and un-news (for example the latest attractive missing white chick vs the hundreds of missing unattractive nonwhite chicks, or Mel Gibson drunk rant about Jews, Tom Cruise jumping around in a couch, etc).
I would love to tell my Canadian friends that they are wrong. That Americans do pay attention, that we do know what is going on and care about how we affect the world around us. But is that true?
Apparently, Newsweek has determined that Amercians won’t buy the magazine with an international cover story about how we are LOSING in Afghanistan, So what does Newsweek do? Run the cover story that we are LOSING in Afghanistan EVERYWHERE IN THE WORLD EXCEPT in the US. The Americans get a story about a photographer. How touching. Take a look yourself…
I would like to say that this is some sort of media bias, but I do not think that the bias is political but rooted in capitalism. Newsweek is a for-profit business. Their executives have decided that this story about a war where Americans are dying, just isnt going to sell in America. Why? Is this financial “bottomline” proof that Americans do not care? Surely not.
We could rattle off a 100 various un-news items. Almost half of us do not vote. Katie Couric took first place in the ratings her first week with a 7 million viewers in a country of 300 million (O’Reilly just gets around 20 million). We just flat out do not pay attention, and so much so that now a news magazine is making business decisons on the cover stories it runs based on our unattentiveness.
Out of the 30 emails, only eleven emailed back with a response. I was betting there would be less than ten respond. Here is a sample of some of those responses:
“This is the best potential chain mail I’ve gotten in a long time. Heard about that story on my favorite news source (outside of Democracy Now) the Daily Show. Pretty crazy that we’ve got to look to a comedian and a long haired Tennessee guy to “keep it real”. “
“You’re right, most people think Tome Cruise is much more important. I think it is a relatable issue. People can relate to Tom Cruise in some way, but not really to a soldier in Afghanistan.”
” Very interesting. America is a sad place for many reasons. We are, as I think much of the world, concerned with our own ‘very small world’. Many are too busy struggling to get by, put food on the table and worry about college for their kids to be able to expand their world view”
“I agree with you that the real problem isn’t newsweek. I mean, it’s not their responsibility to educate us. They did the reporting and sold the story where they could. The problem is with US. We don’t know anything. We don’t read. Or I should say we don’t read anything that might give us a better perspective on the world. We prefer to remain simple-minded and ignorant.”
“This is scary stuff. We should buy European Newsweeks and sneak them on to the newstands.”
“I had just shown (my husband) the photographs of Tom Cruise and family in my new issue of Vanity Fair and told him Annie Leibowitz took them. He said, “Who?” The next day, Newsweek arrived and I said, “Hey, look, this is the photographer I was telling you about!” I was entranced for a moment by the seeming synchronicity of an Annie Leibowitz cover shot on Vanity Fair one day and a cover article about her in Newsweek the next. I had no idea and never would have guessed that Americans are the only ones getting this fluff story.”
“Clarksville is a stifling climate for free, independent thinking. Too many mushrooms just wanting to have xxxx dumped onto them and let them get on with their comfortable lives of babies, church and dinning out. What more could one want?”
Overall this process of throwing out a topic and getting people’s responses has been quite fascinating. Some people didn’t respond that I thought would. Others responded quite differently than I expected. How would you have responded? Please leave a comment and voice your opinion. That’s what this website is all about.