Today I was listening to Sports Radio 810 WHB broadcasting from Kansas City. You can visit their website here. Kevin Kietzman, Todd Leabo, and Danny Clinkscale are on each afternoon on “Between the Lines” from 2:00 to 7:00. They run a good program, seem to have good insight into the world of sports, and seem to have fun. I like listening to their program.
On this afternoon’s broadcast the crew briefly discussed a recent story that broke about Pedro Martinez, a pitcher for the New York Mets. Martinez was caught on tape at a cock fighting match which was held outside the United States. You can read about it here.
Kietzman, Leabo, and Clinkscale discussed this story with a caller, who didn’t understand why this was even relevant. Why should we care what Pedro Martinez does during the off season? Why should we be concerned if he’s involved in a sport that is legal in his home country of the Dominican Republic? The caller argued that this type of voyeurism wouldn’t take place if the media wasn’t so desperate for news. With 24 hour coverage of sports and not enough news to fill the day, the media feels pressure to fill the time. As a result we are presented with the mundane details of celebrities lives.
“Between the Lines” shot back, “You, the consumer, create the demand for such news. If the people didn’t want it, weren’t interested, and it didn’t receive such great ratings, we wouldn’t report it.” In essence, they said, “You made me. I’m not culpable.” This response reminds me of what it was like growing up with two younger siblings.
You can think of other networks that dedicate themselves to this industry. TMZ. Entertainment Tonight. Access Hollywood. The E! Network.
In this debate, who is right? Is it the media’s responsibility to back off Britney Spears, or is it the public’s responsibility to turn it off?
Either way, our culture is guilty of amusing ourselves to death, as Neil Postman has argued so well in his book of the same name.
Perhaps it is time that both parties step back and take a long, hard look at the state of our culture and take on their share of the blame. Until such truth telling takes place it will be difficult for our public discourse to move forward.