Sensationalist Slop: “Dear Media, Please Do Your Job…”

Further to this week’s article on ‘what sells’ in sensationalized media coverage, need we remind kids that the same thing applies to our upcoming election season?

As children try to make sense of this adult world of dirty laundry flinging, sound bites and reality show gymnastics, we need to help kids connect the dots with both election media literacy and grounded reasoning…NOT always an easy find.

This hilarious one minute video making the rounds offers a pithy peek into ‘mainstream media’ coverage of news events and the propensity to focus on ‘fluff’ over fact finding. Kids will love it. takes the ‘lipstick on a pig’ comment and asks:

“Are America’s news media piggies in the junk news trough? Or too chicken to ask the tough questions?”

Ooooh…slow burn…The screen then dissolves to the poignant call to action: “Dear Media…Please do your job. We need you. Demand real news coverage this election season.” (pig-gate video after the jump)

It’s critical that we impart to kids the need to discern motivations, persuasion tactics and bias in ALL media outlets from the get go so that we raise critical thinkers and civic minded adults that can think past a sound bite and a pullquote…

With this in mind, I’d also like to steer kids back to my post about the “Whack a Murdoch” media mogul game which helps kids ‘get it’ in terms of identifying the notion that we should always question the SOURCE of the content coming at us and lift the veil on who owns what to see the interwoven linkage and editorialization. (the game is “brought to you by” the Stop Big Media coalition/FreePress)

We’re down to a handful of media conglomerates at this point…

That’s SINGLE digits folks…

It pays to know who’s payin’…

Online, offline, anytime. (this goes for digerati that are so ga-ga over Google, too!

Finally, as I just wrote on this post at Current TV, in response to the pig-gate video, one of my favorite ‘nonpartisan pastimes’ is to read the same article in multiple media distribution channels, and then toss in overseas news coverage to see what other countries are saying.

It helps keep from America-centric myopia…and puts current affairs and the global stage in the form of a ‘spot the spin’ game. Media has a solid tagline that sums this concept nicely,

As the media watch the world, we watch the media.”

Now if we could get kids and parents to do the same thing, we’d get beyond ‘hype and hyperbole’…and maybe gnaw at the issues and debate rather than shuffle and stall on the perimeter of conversational outskirts like a shy kid at a middle school dance!

This FreePress article on the perils of “junk journalism” said it well,

“When business news becomes a PR factory, flogging favors for Fortune 500 allies, we all suffer the consequences…” …The bottom line is our democracy will not survive for long on a steady diet of this sort…That the FCC is about to remove barriers to Murdoch’s owning more outlets should sound alarm bells for anyone who believes, like James Madison, that a citizenry deprived of accurate information, will result in a government that “is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy or perhaps both…”

And that goes for focusing on gaffes, guerilla warfare via viral rumors and Truemors, and yes…those “lipstick on a pig” spinmeister slams.

Behave, folks. Kids are watching…

Related Resources:

The Role of Media in Elections: Frank Baker Helps Students Spot the Spin

Shaping Youth: Stagecrafting Conventions, Media Literacy Tips for Kids

Shaping Youth: Custom Viral Video Where Kids Become the Write-In Candidate! (huge fun)

Shaping Youth: Will Kids Pick the President?

Shaping Youth: GovTweets: A Snapshot of Election Dialogue

Shaping Youth: Did Jott the Vote Decide to Move On?

Shaping Youth: Using Mobile to Mobilize: Tapping Into Youth Info Needs

Cable in the Classroom: View Smart to Vote Smart

Cable in the Classroom: Lights, Camera, Debate! Sept. ’08

“Dear Media, Please Do Your Job”

Video From (re: piggie-gate!)


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