by Zohair Hussain
As readers' interests shift, integrity seems to lose its main market in reporting
week’s “scandal” at the MTV Video Music Awards, the pacing of news and
reporting made itself known as a speed force to be reckoned with. In the minute-by-minute duration and aftermath of the performance of one, Miley Cyrus, and
her “partner in crime”, Robin Thicke, new age media came together to do what it
does best: twitter our feed with dribble and spit-up commentary.
It can’t be
denied that news reporting, in many ways, is stepping further away from hard
facts and closer to tabloid gossip. In a day and age where Twitter is the new paperboy,
it can’t be denied that the facts are coming faster. And while this could be an opportunity for better news, more quickly, more often than not we’re
trading chances for quick links to real stories with 140 character quips on
MC-Hammer-like “did you see her butt”s (#chauvanistsforCyrus).
disappointment comes, though, when we look to major media outlets (Still
trusted by some. Take off the aluminum hat, Johnny.) the next day for
hard-hitting news, only to see that they’ve decided to throw their own hats in
the ring. With prize-winning headlines such as CNN’s “Miley Cyrus twerks,
stuns VMAs crowd,” the morning news was just as obsessed as the evening
reporter, a writer, an observer, this obsessive, sprawling focus is what scares
me most. It isn’t the performance itself, full of dancers dressed as teddy bears or Cyrus’ gyrating hips on Thicke’s overly hyped crotch (See “Blurred
Lines” for more details). It isn’t so much the event that took place, as it was
the reactive reports that left an extra, bitter after taste to my morning
reporting, perceived to have more lenient, pop-culture laced subject
matter, used to hold itself to similar standards of respectful re-tellings of
facts rather than fiction. Though there had once been a clear distinction
between opinion pieces and news articles, even in the realm of aesthetic focus,
the lines are suddenly more blurred than ever. And where does that leave us,
the “responsible” voices?
in many ways, defined by the voices that carry out its most essential
conversations. If we are of the few so lucky as to have a readership, our words
carry the weight of decades of said cultural insight and historical backing.
What do we have to say for ourselves when these words, our influence, sacrifice
authenticity for celebrity? Integrity for popularity? What are we really
accomplishing when we re-draw the line between honest reporting and
scandalized, gossip mongering, and honest words inch closer to the latter? What
would our (fore)mothers say?
to say that there aren’t some voices, some news outlets out there, who aren’t
doing it right. While most couldn’t look away from Cyrus’ extended tongue
(search “Venom” and “Marvel Comics” for more details), The Guardian, for
example, wouldn’t look past the more subtly digressive implications of the
performance. Did you miss the moment where the young, stage-dominant, Caucasian
Miley Cyrus groped her not so white back up dancers? (The
Some took an even more seasoned route, using
temperance techniques to stop the sensational train in its tracks. In Rolling Stone's
initially deceptive write up, “It's Miley, Bitch: The Tongue
That Licked the World”, Rob Sheffield gave a more balanced account of the 2013
Video Music Awards, mentioning Cyrus almost in passing, and spending his time
taking equal shots at all the stars involved in what he said was MTV’s attempt
to make “sure this year’s VMA party was a real show. With a little help from
I ask again: What are we
creating when we allow objectivity to bend to the will of popular demand,
asking for glitter and jazz and sensationalized headlines? Nothing. We are
creating a secular sinkhole of informational access.
We lead our readers right back where they started.
says to me that there must be a change made. The truth is, we CAN stop. If we
Why can’t we create insight, rather than propagate fan
mongering, rather than cling to one star's fateful decision to wear her teddy
bear out that night? Let the reporters report and the readers decide. It’s now
or never. Robin Thicke will age (even more so, it seems) Miley Cyrus will
find Disney again (and a few more times after that), “Blurred Lines” will find
its way off the Billboard charts (catchy can only be caught for so long), but
the honest word —that will last for…at least a few more years.