It could be seen as bad form for a news organization to applaud a judge's ruling banning cameras from a courtroom, but that's exactly what CityBeat's doing this week. Our response to Stanislaus County Judge Al Girolami, who on Monday decided against allowing TV cameras to document all the sordid details surrounding the death of Laci Peterson and her unborn child: Thank you.
Our response to Stanislaus County Judge Al Girolami, who on Monday decided against allowing TV cameras to document all the sordid details surrounding the death of Laci Peterson and her unborn child: Thank you.
That we didn't even have to explain the identity of Laci Peterson is reason enough to plead for less coverage of her murder. Hers is a household name across the country, thanks to the national TV media-and the press blitz comes at the expense of coverage of terribly important issues affecting millions upon millions of people.
Considering those largely ignored issues, we're tired of and frustrated by the excruciating blow-by-blow reportage of the Peterson case, just like we grew weary of the Westerfield coverage, and just like we're already fatigued from coverage of the next high-profile, flavor-of-the-month murder. You know, as well as we do, that it's right around the corner.
How do we all know that? Because it's easy for the TV media. What could be simpler than hanging around a courthouse or camping out in front of some unwitting family's home, and getting a few dime-a-dozen talking heads to provide commentary on this judge's ruling or that lawyer's strategy?
TV news officials would probably defend themselves by arguing that they're just giving the public what it craves. Bullshit. Sensational news is pretty much the only sort of news much of the TV-viewing public knows. And we're force-fed it because it's easy and cheap to produce.
It's much easier and cheaper than, for example, exploring the causes of inner-city poverty and violence, or conducting in-depth analysis of criminal-justice trends, and it's a hell of a lot easier and cheaper than operating overseas bureaus. Wouldn't it be nice to really know what's been going on in Liberia? If the American press had given a damn about Africa, perhaps horrific events in Ethiopia, Somalia and Rwanda that took place in recent years could have been prevented. Don't know what happened in those countries? Don't bother looking to the mainstream American TV media for the answer-they don't know, either.
How about comprehensive coverage of the U.S. government? Apparently, that's not salacious enough. One American comedian recently joked that for substantive news about his own government, he has to turn to other countries' media. Funny, yes-and infuriating.
No, we're not stupid enough to think that now that a judge has banned cameras from the courtroom in the Peterson case, the national TV press will wander off and cover the rapidly disintegrating U.S. healthcare system or some other important issue.
We're just happy that the media companies that argued against the ban were irritated, at least for a moment.
How many more?
Late last week, U.S. officials reversed an earlier order for Border Patrol agents to stop sweeping San Diego streets looking for undocumented Mexicans. The order had been issued because of negative PR surrounding an immigration bust of a family less than a block away from the Mexican Consulate.
As important as that issue is, it pales in comparison to the outrageous Border Patrol policy of engaging in high-speed chases of suspected immigrants who successfully drive into the U.S. That policy claimed another five victims on Monday, as a large truck broadsided a vehicle carrying seven alleged immigrants and being chased by a Border Patrol agent in Imperial County.
These "accidents" are occurring more and more frequently-roughly two dozen this year. How many more people have to die before we're outraged enough to force a change in policy? Does there have to be a certain number of dead innocent Americans before we rise up? It's a shame that the U.S. government doesn't value the lives of Mexicans enough to stop its Border Patrol from participating in these reckless, deadly chases.
If you agree that the Border Patrol should stop chasing people to death, contact congressional representatives Duke Cunningham (760-737-8438), Susan Davis (619-280-5353), Bob Filner (619-422-5963), Duncan Hunter (619-579-3001) and Darrell Issa, (760-599-5000) and tell them so.