Give the people what they want

According to four online polls on mass media’s coverage of the news, people are fed up with the excessive amount of celebrity news and they want more good or positive news.

The Facebook poll suggested on what topic is given too much coverage in the media, 83 of the 109 participants chose celebrity news. Other participants chose sports, crime, war, rich people or politics.

“I think that celebrity gossip gets way too much attention in the media,” said Stephanie Carpentier, SUNY Oswego student. “There are more important things to discuss than who Kim Kardashian is dating.”

“They (celebrities) are basically nobodies (who) we worship,” said Darren Rosengarten, SUNY Oswego alumni. “Seriously…I do not care about Lindsay Lohan and her probation violations.”

The results of the Facebook poll were similar to the same kind of poll conducted by Pew Research Center in 2007. According to the Pew Research Center poll, 40 percent of the 1,000 participants chose celebrity news or Hollywood gossip.

Could the polls have been biased? How do we know for sure the polls are an accurate indicator of the public’s opinion?

In reference to the Pew Research Center website, “results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.”

The Maynard Institute identified Michael Jackson’s death on June 25, 2009 as a big media sensation. “(It) took over Web sites and airwaves on Thursday as throngs of reporters rushed to the scenes of his life and death in and around Los Angeles.”

Mass media coverage for the Jackson’s death was so big, “in L.A., KCAL-TV reported, ‘journalists from the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan and Colombia are here.’”

As reported by Maynard Institute, “CBS News announced a one-hour special, ‘CBS News: The Life and Death of Michael Jackson,’ for Thursday night, anchored live by Harry Smith.”

Two of the broadcast networks, ABC and NBC, squared off for two hours on “a night of heartbreak in Hollywood,” Tom Shales, Washington Post reporter, said.

The Michael Jackson death story had been in the news for almost two years. The news coverage faded on Nov. 8, 2011, after the judge announced, “Michael Jackson’s personal doctor (Dr. Conrad Murray) was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in (Michael Jackson’s) drug-related death in 2009.”

Is there a story the media should have covered more closely on June 25, 2009 than Michael Jackson’s death?

As stated on the New York Times (NYT) website, the first time a new type of swine flu (H1N1 Virus) was identified was in the spring of 2009 resulting in numerous deaths. Also, “fear spread with the virus across continents and oc(e)ans and on June 11, 2009, the World Health Organization declared the … (H1N1) strain of swine flu to be the first worldwide pandemic in 41 years.”

In agreement with the 2009 News Interest Reports webpage, Michael Jackson’s death was the most closely followed story and had the highest news interest. In 2011, the website listed “Coverage of Jackson’s Death Seen As Excessive” for July 1, 2009.

According to the Pew Research Center website, “the News Interest Index survey … collect(s) data from Friday through Monday to gauge public interest in the most covered stories of the week.”

Did Michael Jackson’s death impact more people than the H1N1 Virus?

The H1N1 Virus was a global phenomenon during 2009; scientists were trying to create a vaccine for it. It is listed on the Worldwide H1N1 (Swine Flu) Infection Data, “there were 1,483,520 cases, which resulted in 25,174 deaths.” According to the U.S. Lab-Verified Swine Flu Infections, “there were at least 44,640 cases (unofficial total is 115,431), which resulted in 10,837 deaths.”

The coverage peaked for H1N1 virus in the spring, when the paranoia was at its highest, and in the fall, when the vaccine was first introduced.

Should a celebrity’s death dictate more media coverage than a worldwide epidemic?

“I want real news,” said Charles Fee, SUNY Oswego student.

According to a Facebook poll on what topic is not given enough media coverage, 23 of the 36 participants chose good or positive news.

Participants also chose education, international news, taking our jobs, economy or deficit or inflation, poverty or homelessness, environment or global warning, Iraq and Afghanistan conflict(s) and abuse of animals and/or children.

“There are so many terrible things going on in the world,” Carpentier said. “If we don’t hear about more positive things more often, then we are all going to be depressed and afraid of the world.”

“I was really torn between good news and poverty, but I chose good news because the media these days is just how everything can go wrong and will go wrong,” said Brian Kelly, SUNY Oswego alumni. “There’s nothing but pessimism and it gets really annoying.”

Just like the other Facebook poll, it was similar to the poll conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2007. According to the Pew Research Center poll, 10 percent of the participants chose good or positive news. It beat out the Iraq War or good news about Iraq by 1 percent.

There is a low margin separating the good news and the Iraq War choices, so how can the poll be deemed legitimate?

According to the Pew Research Center website, “weekly surveys are based on telephone interviews among a nationwide sample of approximately 1,000 adults, 18 years of age or older, conducted under the direction of ORC (Opinion Research Corporation).”

During Operation Iraqi freedom, media outlets such as the NYT and the CNN websites reported on the invasion. Both mass media outlets had sections devoted to coverage of the invasion.

Following President George W Bush’s declaration of “Mission Accomplished” in May 2003, the NYT reported, “The messy aftermath of a swift military victory made the war in Iraq increasingly unpopular at home.” Also, the NYT reported, “This led to less media coverage of the Iraq War with a couple of exceptions, the 2007 surge of troops by President Bush and the withdrawal declaration by President Barrack Obama earlier this year.”

Is it legitimate to say good news receives little coverage?

On October 3, 2011, Dr. Ralph M. Steinman, Dr. Bruce A. Beutler and Dr. Jules A. Hoffmann shared the Nobel Prize in Medicine for “discoveries of essential steps in the immune system’s response to infection.” Dr. Steinman had pancreatic cancer and was hoping the research would cure him.

According to the American Cancer Society, “about 20 percent of patients with pancreatic cancer survive one year after detection and 4 percent after five years.” According to the NYT, “Dr. Steinman was able to survive four and a half years after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and received the award posthumously; he died (Friday) Sept. 30, 2011, hours before the Nobel Prize in Medicine committee had chosen him as one of the winners.”

Dr. Steinman’s posthumous award resulted in controversy because Nobel Prizes cannot be awarded posthumously.

“In 1996, Dr. Hoffmann discovered the cell receptors in laboratory fruit flies that are activated by pathogenic bacteria or fungi,” said Lawrence K. Altman and Nicholas Wade. “Two years later, Dr. Beutler identified the cell receptors in mice that respond to a substance in the coat of bacteria and that can set off septic shock if overstimulated.”

According to the NYT, “These receptors turned to be made by the same family of genes as those in the fruit fly, known as Toll-like receptor genes.”

“(There will probably be) about 44,030 new cases of pancreatic cancer (and) about 37,660 deaths from pancreatic cancer,” according to the American Cancer Society’s estimates for pancreatic cancer in the United States for 2011. “The lifetime risk of having pancreatic cancer is about one in 71 (and) it is about the same for both men and women.

If a person types in the names of the doctors who received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in the NYT website search engine (then clicks on all results since 1861), he or she would find 11 results with three of those being relevant articles. However, if the same person types in Michael Jackson’s death in the same search engine (then clicks on articles for the past 12 months); he or she would find 914 results with numerous articles.

Should the Nobel Prize in Medicine winners have received more news coverage than Michael Jackson received posthumously?

“I tend to be more reserved in my judgment (of the media),” said Maggie Simone, SUNY Oswego professor of journalism. “The media try to be partial and compete with non-media coverage and we (the media) tend to get sloppy.”

The media have such in-depth coverage of celebrity news where journalists and broadcasters are “over-emphasizing” the newsworthiness of celebrity news. An example of this is Herman Cain’s alleged sexual harassments; because of the vast amount of information journalists and broadcasters are using in their articles, blogs or broadcasts, they perceive Cain’s actions as a monumental issue.

Despite the fact, Cain has not been charged or tried for these allegations. He has not broken any laws, as of this date, because he has not lied in front of a judge or a jury made up of his peers.

Should the media have “in-depth” coverage of celebrity news, which the public may not care about or should the media have “in-depth” coverage of issues concerning the public?