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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Local news is laughable

By Janice Kopaunik

The local media’s handling of the tragedy of the trapped miners inside the Crandall Canyon Mine was a disaster and highlights a key problem I see with the “news.” It is beginning to seem like the term “news” is used loosely with no connection to the related piece’s newsworthiness.

As the television channels have moved to increase viewership, they have abandoned responsible reporting in exchange for entertainment purposes. The local television news has little meaningful information, and is instead filled with junk. Journalism is reaching new lows and is moving more and more toward tabloid-like reporting.

Following the mine collapse, our thoughts, prayers, and media coverage were intently focused on each inch of progress made — literally. Programming was regularly interrupted to bring updates and the newspapers were saturated with information on the history of the mine and its miners.

We glued ourselves to the television like addicts gleaning the dumpster that is the local news for our fix of any new bit of information. The press, in a very paparazzi-like fashion, sought to feed our addiction. Reporters hounded the families of the miners, often resorting to sleeping in their cars to get a front-row view of the action. We ravenously listened and intently read the stories told by the miners’ loved ones, fueling the media’s abuse of the situation. Even reputable news sources such as CNN and CNBC followed along. It seemed as if the world stopped to mourn with our state.

In reality, while we were glued to live coverage of a hole in the ground, the world continued without us. Earthquakes devastated Peru, where the bodies of hundreds lined the streets and many more were left homeless. Rivers ran through the streets of North Korea, where life-sustaining farmlands were ruined by intense flooding and the impoverished country was further compromised. Flooding mines in China trapped almost 200 miners, with little prevailing hope of the possibility of their survival. Elections were held in Sierra Leone, giving the civil war-torn country a chance for hope.

People died and history was made. The only evidence of this in the local media was in the minute world news report (perhaps even following a five-minute segment on a “local dog with amazing talent!”) How have we, as consumers of media, let our news evolve into the equivalent of a high school news broadcast, gossip and all? Instead of featuring responsible news reporting, the nightly news has become a joke.

The Society of Professional Journalists established a code of ethics in 1996 to maintain the integrity of journalism, explicitly encouraging “seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues.” Along with the call to report truth accurately and harmlessly, reporters are called to “show good taste” and “avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.” Apparently our news professionals didn’t get the memo.

Instead of being a source for newsworthy events and weather, the nightly news has become a hub for local gossip and an alternative to sitcoms. Don’t get me started on the morning news, which apparently strives to keep its newly-wakened viewers from thinking at all. News covering 99 percent of the world and its citizens is pushed into the background and forgotten as we watch money-saving tips and interviews of local celebrities.

Don’t misunderstand; I am not saying that what happened in the Crandall Canyon Mine was anything short of a heart-wrenching, newsworthy disaster. It’s just that the local media treated this situation poorly and acted without respect for the miners or their families, and this isn’t what we should expect or accept from our news outlets.

There is more to the news than just what happens in our backyard, and our local news should feel more of an obligation to report it.

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