Blame it on capitalism

Did the media blow the Randy Moss fake mooning “controversy” out of proportion? I think so. But the question to me is, why?

The same reason they made everyone outside of Los Angeles care about the Laci Peterson murder case. Or Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt breaking off their marriage.

It’s also the same reason why they did not give adequate coverage to the Ohio voting irregularities. Or the reason why few American citizens couldn’t tell the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite.

The answer, of course, is capitalism.

Before I go any further, I want to mention that I’m not a communist, a socialist, an imperialist, a Nazi or any other label that you want to slap on people with opinions.

I simply think that while capitalism may, in fact, be the best system that exists, it is the root of many problems in today’s society.

The primary and most obvious case is the way the media handles certain “controversies” and shies away from issues that may take awhile to explain but are very important nonetheless.

The media is going to do whatever it has to do to get ratings, sell newspapers or woo potential advertisers.

The media is going to do whatever it has to do to get ratings, sell newspapers or woo potential advertisers. If a show has to devote the first half hour of its program to dramatizing whatever soap opera is going on between Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, then so be it, as long as it’s marketable and will lead to bigger profits.

And that’s exactly the problem with the media – it’s a business. Like any business, it will do or say whatever it has to as long as it will bring in more money, instead of educating the public on current events. Being the “public’s diary” is certainly a goal, but too often that goal takes a backseat to making money.

The newspaper I previously worked at once received a letter to the editor from a disgruntled former employee of a very large retail store. Among the writer’s many grievances against the company were the conditions in which the employees were forced to work, which caused more than a few to be admitted to the hospital for heat-related symptoms.

We ran the letter, most if not all of which was completely valid. But the company in question apparently didn’t think so, as they subsequently pulled their advertising for about a month. The paper lost thousands of dollars in revenue.

The root of that situation? Capitalism.

Spike TV, the channel for men, tells me what I, as a man, am supposed to be interested in. But I don’t really like World’s Wildest Police Chases, and I also really don’t care to see promos for the most degrading show to women ever created, Girls Gone Wild.

Those executives don’t speak for all men, including me. They only strengthen stereotypes.

However, I also understand that print or broadcast outlets have to understand their target audiences and give their readers or viewers a reason why they should read or watch their stories.

At The Spectator, we are writing primarily for the students of UW-Eau Claire, so we have the responsibility to cover topics that will be of interest to a large number of students and angle the stories accordingly.

But there’s also a fine line to draw. Chances are, survey results would show that students would want the paper to be solely filled with police blotters and Mash Pits.

So The Spectator is faced with its role as an agenda setter. What should students care about? The Spectator is forced to make a decision.

To me, a small group of people shouldn’t decide what is important and what’s not. But it’s not a Spectator problem or even a media problem. It’s a problem of capitalism, and there really isn’t any way around it.

Before you call Joseph McCarthy and report me as a communist, I do believe that, much like democracy as a form of government, capitalism is the best economic system the world has to date.

However, it shouldn’t have to stay that way. To fix it, it’s going to take somebody, or a collection of intelligent minds, to think outside the box and come up with a solution that doesn’t force the media to decide what’s important and what’s not.

And as a people, we could get back to making our own decisions and forming opinions for ourselves.

Schaaf is a sophomore print journalism major and a news editor of The Spectator.