Insert your town as opposed to Augusta to see if it fits. If not, Great!!
Hee-Haw/ Starstruck/Pollyanna Journalism--
Why does the majority of the media here in Augusta (2nd largest city in GA) suffer from a lack of creativity/innovation/ingenuity? (take your pick)
Disclaimer: If the shoe fits wear it! I would like to absolve certain segments of the Augusta media. These people/entities have made an honest attempt to give coverage to a wide array of local artists: Ben Hasan, Ashley Brown, L. Munroe (comcast), Helen Blocker Adams, Carl Thornton Jr., Metro Spirit, The Bell Ringer (ASU) , and anyone else that I missed.
The Augusta Chronicle just celebrated 225 yrs. in the Augusta area. For some, it was a milestone to be lauded, for others, it was indicative of a stagnant ubiquitous force, resistant to change. The state of the media in Augusta is at a very low point. Why do I make such a sweeping statement? Because you have too many followers and not enough innovators. The common theme amongst the mainstream media here in Augusta seems to be: let's not make any waves to upset the status quo, but if you are not of that ilk, all bets are off. In other words, let's not rock the boat when it comes to racism or other complex issues that may upset the establishment, but let's inject centuries old proprieties into our reporting. Not to say that everything should be made about race, but when something does happen that involves racism, the mainstream media here in Augusta comes off as unrealistically optimistic. There is too much of a fear of coming off as too confrontational when it comes to challenging the unfair manifestations of the establishment. Yes, we know that these people are big monetary supporters and advertisers, but they shouldn't dictate how stories are run.
The Augusta Chronicle-- The Svengali in control of a bunch of sycophants.
If you were to get the bulk of your news from the Augusta Chronicle and local news stations, you might think that all black people do in Augusta is engage in crime, sports, entertainment, or politics. You may see an occasional story about education, but most stories turn negative. Where is the balance? Where are the stories on intellectuals of color engaged in academic activities such as writing or designing? You may get a brief story on Tyrone Butler (they didn't even want to put their name on this article!) or another established artist, but what about the literary community of Augusta as a whole? Comcast and the Metro Spirit usually lead the way in covering local artists, but why does the mainstream media here in Augusta drop the ball in that category? They should be doing much more to balance the negative images that they show of black people with images of black people doing intellectual activities. The next generation is watching. don't let them down!
Who's to blame for this lack of balance and imagination on the part of the mainstream media here in Augusta? The Public? Some may argue that the general public does not want to see stories that are heavy on the intellectual side. The truth of the matter is that many intellectuals in Augusta are quite engaging and exciting. Besides, in order for people to truly reject something, they must first be truly exposed to it. So, since the mainstream media has not been exposing the public to intellectuals of color, I don't buy that argument. That's a cop out! When a famous celebrity or author comes to town, the mainstream media flocks to these events like flies to______. (fill in the blank) This in effect pumps up out of town talent, while ignoring local talent. However, let a local talent go elsewhere and make it big, the mainstream media will be with them lock and step when they return. It shouldn't have to be that way. Support local talent now!
Who's pulling the strings?
From my observations, a large part of the problem seems to be the news producers, directors, and who ever is calling the shots at the Augusta Chronicle. (Billy Morris??) Many of the afore mentioned people have thin skin. They tend to ignore people that they disagree with or that have offended them in some way. These people's idea of a good defense is to ignore media critics. Some of you may know that I charged Channel 12's Chris Thomas with a lackluster job on his coverage of the 40th yr. anniversary of the Augusta Riot. I was given some public and private flack by some in the community. (mainly those in the media--how ironic!!) How dare little ole' me suggest racial insensitivity!! Why, Channel 12 is a pillar in the community!! Fine, i'll give Channel 12 that much. They also employ a wide variety of faces both on and off camera. But, that still doesn't mean that Channel 12 doesn't contribute to various misunderstandings in the community with their one-sided portrayals of very sensitive issues. I still find it hard to believe that it never donned on Chris Thomas or Channel 12, that they were unevenly supporting the status quo, while throwing the little man (impoverished African-americans) under the bus. Did they think we wouldn't notice or care because a black man was reporting on the story? I hope not, for that would be insulting. I would liken it to the equivalent or someone peeing on you and telling you it's raining!!
That whole incident led me to wonder: How much control do people like Chris Thomas, Ashley Campbell and other local Augusta journalists have over their stories? In reality, the news producers and directors have full control over that aspect. This same idea can be applied to the Augusta Chronicle. So here is the million dollar question: Who are these people? We see the faces of people like Kimberly Scott, Jay Jefferies, Brad Means, Mary Morrison, Blayne Alexander (one of my favorites), etc., but what about the people that we don't see who are actually calling the shots. That will be the subject of my next Media Manifesto---
The Puppetmaster: Whose really pulling the strings of the Augusta Media.