Friday, September 10, 2010

Gatekeeper FAIL: The Tennessean Throws Fuel On Copycat Koran Burner

Posted By on Fri, Sep 10, 2010 at 10:35 AM

Pathological personalities on the fringe's bleeding edge certainly do reap heaps of airtime and ink lately. One might ask why the pastor of a tiny Florida congregation should be fixed at the center of a nationwide news cycle? Or, for that matter, why The Tennessean would single out a former pastor with no congregation who plans to burn a single Qur'an?

Rick Perlstein, a columnist for The New York Times, has an idea: "...elite media gatekeepers have abandoned their moral mandate to stigmatize uncivil discourse," rendering them "comically easy marks for those actively working to push public discourse to extremes." Like it or not, fellow journalists, "...coverage is context."

This abdication seems to arise from two sources: 1) What attracts eyes, in the cheapest sense. Already, the story about the lonely planned holy-book burning is among the most commented articles on the website. Page views, plain and simple. 2) The new media ideology (not necessarily in the New Media sense) dictates that each viewpoint gets column inches, whether or not that viewpoint is worthy of them.

Case in point: A recent story in The Tennessean about global warming, where a skeptic with no scientific training — representing a "thinktank" funded by the oil and coal industries — is trotted out as though his observations deserve equal consideration with those of the world's preeminent minds.

The fact that any attention whatsoever was given to someone like Rev. Old is, perhaps, more newsworthy than the Qur'an he intends to burn.

H/T Stephen George

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