Facebook Twitter

ANOTHER VERDICT IS REACHED - AND MEDIA ARE FOUND GUILTY

SHARE ANOTHER VERDICT IS REACHED - AND MEDIA ARE FOUND GUILTY

THE VERDICT IS in on the media, too: guilty.

People are disgusted with the media - and they blame the media's numerous sins for pumping up the O.J. trial. They've had enough, they say. They're sick of the hype and grossed out by the sheer grossness of it all. The cameras. The choppers. The rude and inane questions. The egos. The big money. The bias. The circus.Journalists are out of control, and "journalism ethics" is now, people joke not so jokingly, an oxymoron. So go away, enough already, they say - while at the same time they watch, listen and read in record numbers, like junkies hooked on cheap dope who want to quit but can't. And then they blame the dealer.

Well, what about it? Are the media to blame merely for giving the public what it clearly wants?

One thing is for sure: Because of marvelous technological advances, more "news" of more immediacy is brought to more people in more places now than at any time in history.

This is a new news medium, metamorphosed by television, technology and corporate greed from a quiet, orderly seeker and disseminator of facts and truth into a frenetic pusher of nonstop jolts to the nervous system. Its rapacious and whole regard is for "actuality" - what is happening right now, at this very moment, and this has largely obliterated any obligation to dig beneath the surface.

"The truth," obviously, is much more than what the cameras sees. In fact, it often directly contradicts what it sees. Sophisticated practitioners like Johnnie Cochran Jr. have learned to shrewdly manipulate the media to tell "truths" that serve their purposes - and the media, made more supine because of their need for ratings and profits, now cravenly allow themselves to be manipulated.

So desperate is the need to get a "marquee name" that it's become common practice even with the most prestigious news organizations to let interviewees decide what questions will be asked and what pictures will be shown.

The result is that investigative reporting is a thing of the past with most media - including, sadly, the print media.

The most glaring example is the shock and surprise with which white America reacted to the verdict, and the almost uniform applause and approval with which black America greeted it - the sudden revelation of a supposedly incomprehensible chasm of misunderstanding between the races.

Had the media done a diligent day-in-and-day-out job of finding out the truth about black com-plaints and black attitudes toward police and the justice system, undoubtedly the surprise and anger would have been less - and perhaps, even, the verdict different.

The relentless drive for fame and money - bigger names and bigger salaries and speaking fees for reporters, and bigger ratings and bottom line numbers for news corporations - is too all-powerful for anything like ethics to survive.

It is not a proud time for a profession that has had many proud times.