Blocking out reality

What is this story doing on the leading world news page of today’s Sydney Morning Herald?

“As he ponders the future of the free world, the fate of social security or the state of his Texas ranch, President George Bush can turn to one source for solace: his iPod.”

The article explains how Bush likes country tunes, Joni Mitchell, “does not do anything so vulgar as download the songs himself” and cycles with the device before and after important engagements.

This is not news. The musical tastes of the US President could be conceivably buried as an “Odd Spot” somewhere in the newspaper, but knowing that Bush likes Van Morrison does nothing to humanise a man loathed the world over. More importantly, editors would never place the leisure activities of France’s Jacques Chirac, New Zealand’s Helen Clarke or Iran’s President Khatami with such prominence. It continues a trend towards promoting the trivial as relevant and important, when in fact these details take valuable editorial space away from reporting issues in other corners of the world. Did the editors miss a US State Department report which found “serious cost overruns and a ‘poor performance’ have plagued Halliburton’s continuing $1.2 billion contract to repair Iraq’s vital southern oil fields?”

Today’s Sydney Morning Herald has only one page of world news. A once great paper continues its slide towards irrelevance.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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