Monday, January 12, 2009

Thank Heaven for Hard-Hitting Journalism (if you can find it).

Here's a fun little project. Bring up a window on your computer and look for some news articles on Barack Obama. I looked up Barack Obama + news and all I found was old information on his campaign, and articles on his winning the presidency. If anyone finds anything different (on this date), I'd be grateful. I guess I'm a complete oddball, because I'm interested in what his plans are for the presidency and the nation in which he's going to be responsible for.

Now look up Barack Obama + dog. Go ahead. Do it. You're going to find a plethora of websites and articles about what freaking dog is going to be in the white house. Fox, CNN, ABC all have regular updates, The Chicago Tribune proclaimed to have allergists advice, while Barbara Walters dedicated her final question of her ABC Exclusive interview with the Presidential couple to the dog options. During the interview, Presidential Elect Barack Obama states:
"We're getting more advice about this than my economic policies. No doubt about it."2

"Presidential Dogwatch 2009" is popping up everywhere, including satiric debates on Comedy Central. I've even spotted updates on the CNN ticker more than once. And it's not just the U S of A, either. BBC News offered an in-depth feature on what would be the best choice for the family, which opened with the amazing statement:
"US President-elect Barack Obama is still working on the make-up of his cabinet. A far more important decision - for his daughters at least - will be choosing the puppy that accompanies the new First Family to the White House."1

When I saw a television news segment on this little tid-bit the day after Super Tuesday, I thought "Well, it's nice to have something a bit on the lighter side." After all, it's nice to see the more human side of our leaders - especially after the tearful statement Presidential Elect gave to his daughters that they would indeed get the puppy they were promised if he were to win the presidency.

But at this point, this is just stupid. It's not the fact that there's articles on the future First Pet, it' the fact that there is very little information on what is actually going on with our future leader's plans, and it doesn't seem like many people are asking for it.

President Elect Obama takes office in a little over a week, and I still haven't any real word on what he's going to do there. His whole campaign was based on the "Change" platform, but not once was I ever given an idea of what changes were to be made. Will the color blue be illegal? Will goldfish be allowed suffrage? I wouldn't know simply because no one seems to really care enough to ask.

But thank the stars above because I can rest assured that there will either be a Labradoodle or a Portuguese Water Dog in the White House. After weeks of direful insomnia I can finally sleep tonight, because every time I thought that it might be a pug I had to change my underwear.

The reality is that, these days, journalism is a business that depends on the lowest common denominator. Unfortunately, that denominator is what we - the public - pay for. Are we satisfied with not knowing what our leaders are going to set up for us? Is a Cockapoo or a Schnoodle going determine our unemployment rate, our tax spending or our international policies?

We really must communicate with our journalists and hold them for the responsibilities they have taken. As journalists, we expect them to inform us of the world that we cannot completely access so that we can properly determine our next steps, lest we simply hand over the power that had been so sacrificially won for us, through willful ignorance.


1: BBC News In-Depth report on the First Puppy.
2: Walters' interview with the Obamas. (Video of full interview available in this article).

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