Summer Reading: Four Headlines Stories That Caught My Eye

1. CRIME DOWN, MEDIA CRIME COVERAGE STILL HIGH?:

A recent Brookings Institute report reconfirms a little-known fact: Crime is going down in the U.S. in both the ‘burbs and major cities and has been decreasing for a while.

Since 1993, violent crimes have been in a much-welcomed free-fall. As crime researchers write in the Atlantic, the reason(s) explaining this drop are currently mere speculation.

Yet, the sensational coverage on Headline “News” and local six o’clock broadcasts remains the same, making communities (more) leery of their own neighbors. And preventing people from realizing the downward trend that has existed for more than a decade.

To TV stations, crime stories are the drama they need pull in viewers and ratings, and, not least of all, advertisers.  Crime stories are what they actively seek to catch on film as it unfolds. A case-in-point: the Casey Anthony trial coverage.

 From Nancy Grace (Why does she still have TV showExhibit A) to strangers in the street, the “guilt” of an un-convicted “Tot Mom” accused of killing her child is already decided in many minds. The whole media circus proves to me that tragic Peyton Place scandals should stay local and not  be broadcasted to a national audience.  When national broadcasters “pick up” their local affiliate stories, they cheapen sensitive, emotional stories and frame them as soap operas with daily updates, which viewers can tune into to catch the latest “episode.”

And I can’t flip channels fast enough to avoid catching a glimpse of polls asking viewers to decide a defendant’s guilt. I thought that’s what a judge and jury was for…

 There is never enough coverage of convicted white-collar criminals like Raj Rajaratnam. The media never misses a perp walk though. But cases with national impact deserve more than one-day coverage.

Rajaratnam was convicted in one of the largest insider-trader cases in U.S. history. His conviction in May, lacked the drama of Anthony’s, but the impact affects me more.

When the “financial wizards of the Darks Arts” act up, you’re guaranteed there’s a ripple effect that WILL affect everyone. Stock markets and their investors are an emotionally unstable, high-maintenance pair: They will react to every outcome; from a slap on the wrist to being sentenced in  a jail cell beside Bernie Madoff. Their reaction may cause downturns or upshots that send the economy (and every American) on an emotional roller-coaster.

As the financial crisis shows, the doings of financial wizards deserves more scrutiny than the messy relationship of a Orlando family.

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