Monday, May 02, 2005

Yo! We Got Your News Right Here!

"The lowest form of popular culture...has overrun real journalism." Carl Bernstein

In Philadelphia, the news is not good. But at least it's news. A microcosm of what's happening all over the country.

Murder: A 15-year-old girl was lured into a deserted park by four so-called friends, then choked, beaten, stabbed, set on fire and thrown, still alive, into the river. She made it to dry land, where she finally bled to death. "We need to take our streets back," said a friend of the family, "The teens are out here with guns and violence. That's not the way to handle it."

Drug Shooting: A 7-year-old boy was shot coming out of school by a drug dealer aiming at the child's stepfather waiting for him in a van -- who sped away from the scene, leaving the bleeding child lying on the grass. The boy is in critical condition while a manhunt goes on for the gunmen. The grandmother of two traumatized friends of the victim said, "I saw the holes in the van. I can't imagine the holes in his body."

Gun Violence: A 15-year-old boy was killed and a 16-year-old girl seriously wounded while playing with a gun belonging to the girl's father. A sign on the home's garage displays a picture of gun and warns trespassers will be shot. "I challenge anybody to see how many times a gun has been used to stop an intruder versus the number of times a kid has used it to harm themselves or another kid," said a local homicide lieutenant.

HIV/AIDS: A 3rd grade student brought her mother's diabetic testing needle to school and managed to stick 19 children, many of them numerous times, before school officials caught on. The children were taken to a local ER for blood tests, where one of them tested positive for HIV. Now all 19 must take potent anti-HIV drugs, which will make them ill for weeks. It will be 6 months before they know whether or not they have HIV or AIDS.

Sex Scandal: A respected African American principal who rose from a life of crime and drugs to a doctoral degree and a superb job of turning an inner city school around was arrested for having sex with a student in the school auditorium. This is the same school attended by the tortured and murdered 15-year-old girl, leading the school district chief executive to say,"Unfortunately, we've become very good at crisis intervention."

Gays in the Church: A defrocked lesbian minister was restored to the pulpit by a Methodist church appeals panel. She joined a Gay and Lesbian interfaith service Sunday, along with a gay Bishop and a nun who's been ordered by the Vatican to stop her ministries to homosexuals. The liberal bishop who heads the Diocese of Pennsylvania claims most dioceses have gay priests who stay in the closet to avoid conflict. What will the new Pope do about that, one wonders.

Politics and Corruption: Time Magazine named Philadelphia's John Street one of the worst mayors in the country. The FBI has been investigating Mayor Street for over a year. A former City Treasurer, two bank executives, a Detroit businessman and a local businesswoman are currently on trial for corruption. The lead defendent -a top fund-raiser for Mayor Street- died of cancer in November.

Depression: And the icing on the cake. Men's Health magazine just named Philadelphia the most depressed city in the nation.

In the past week, we've seen almost every hot button issue in the country explode right here in the City of Brotherly Love.

So what was the biggest story on CNN and MSNBC all weekend? The Runaway Bride. Their airwaves were filled with stunned relatives and pop psychologists and kindly police officers. "Law enforcement is really making a major move to deal with people in crisis," Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schulz said Sunday, where the woman had run from Georgia. "Miss Wilbanks was definitely a person in crisis." (AP) Then they flew her home, first class, with a new teddy bear.

A person in crisis? The mind reels. Send that bride to Philadelphia -on a bus- for a crash course in reality. Make her give that bear to a kid who could have AIDS, or just lost a classmate, or lies dying from gunshot wounds. Let her hear what some true victims have to say.

But neither she nor anyone else outside the Philadelphia area will know about these genuinely newsworthy stories.

When will the honchos of big news organizations pay attention to what's happening in cities around the country, and offer their viewers authentic news? With countless resources and personnel at their disposal, they spent this weekend repeating one inane story over and over-- when they could have had their pick of serious news stories in Philadelphia.

Maybe Rupert Murdoch took over CNN and MSNBC while we here in Philly were distracted by real events. Frankly, I'm too depressed to care.

(Source for news quotes:
Philadelphia Inquirer)

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Blogger David Goldenberg said...

Not to mention 127 killed in Iraq since the interim government was sworn in.

12:01 PM  
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