If It Bleeds, It (Sometimes) Leads

Looking beyond “the yellow-tape segments that bleed and lead local TV news” Norman Solomon (Creators Syndicate, 6/13/09) discerns what he dubs “Media’s Love/Hate Affair with Violence”–as exemplified by

the kind of violence–rarely occurring in the light of day–that gets scant media attention. With somewhere around 2 million people behind bars in the United States, all kinds of violent acts are happening in the nation’s prisons and jails. The violence that some guards inflict on prisoners is even less apt to make the news than what stressed-out prisoners do to one another.

Various forms of what could be called “institutionalized violence” are not identified as such in the standard reportorial lexicons. When children go to bed hungry–or when people can’t see a doctor and then wind up in emergency rooms with serious medical conditions that could have been prevented with earlier healthcare–some very cruel hotwired violence is underway. But from a boilerplate media standpoint, it’s part of the regular social order.

And that’s all aside from journalistic adoration of “the U.S. war-fighting establishment–what outgoing President Dwight Eisenhower called the ‘military-industrial complex.'” Solomon concludes: “In short, according to tacit judgments that dominate the media establishment, reprehensible violence doesn’t include the violence that goes unrebuked by prevailing authority structures in our society.”