Monday, August 08, 2005

Saint Peter


The passing of Peter Jennings is all over the news today. Based upon the level of coverage and of the accolades being placed upon this man, you'd think that it was a U.S. Senator or a White House Cabinet member or a Supreme Court Justice that had died. But it was a journalist.

As you watch the continuing coverage, keep in mind that all of these wonderful words are being said about a man who:

1. Looked good/trustworthy on camera
2. Had a good speaking voice
3. Could read out loud
4. Appeared as if he could think well on his feet, and
5. Had an inquisitive personality.

Such are the prerequisites for a major-network news anchor. Whether or not Peter Jennings was particularly intelligent, compassionate, courageous, honest, etc. (the truly good timeless human qualities) is irrelevant, because those qualities essentially don't matter in the world of major-network news-anchors. Please don't misunderstand; Peter Jennings probably was an intelligent, compassionate, courageous and honest person. But here's the important point:

The qualities for which he is held in such high esteem matter only to journalists.

Call it admiration. Call it respect. Call it envy. Either way, only two qualities of the five I listed are qualities to which the vast majority of people in the world can feel good about aspiring: 4) being able to think on one's feet and 5) having an inquisitive personality.

What I'm saying here is that the mainstream media, as a whole, is a tragically self-centered microcosm of our selfish culture at-large. There are so many interesting and inspiring people and stories around the world. And not just in Blue States, major metropolitan areas and Europe, but in Red-State America as well.

But we don't get to hear those stories. The elevation to sainthood of one of journalism's own is more important than stories of ordinary people doing good and extraordinary things amidst major challenges - ordinary people that will have a more meaningful effect on other people's lives than any journalist ever could. Here's the lesson: if you're looking for true heroism and nobility, don't look toward the mainstream media.

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