Friday, April 22, 2016

Prince & Ecuadorans

A few days ago, upon learning of the tragic earthquake in Ecuador, I tuned into our "most reliable" cable news network to get the details.  Unfortunately, they were waiting for a news conference with Donald Trump; worse yet, they have given the tragedy very little attention ever since, deferring primarily to coverage of dysfunctional American politics.  This is despite the fact that nearly 500 persons were killed in the earthquake and the economy of Ecuador will likely suffer for many years to come.

Yesterday, the news of Prince's death, an icon of American music, sent that channel into overdrive, providing continuous coverage of his career, a commitment that lasted most of the afternoon and evening and resumed this morning.  While his contribution to music was surely significant and his life deserves tribute and coverage by the mainstream media, the current ongoing marathon is clearly the product of American celebrity worship (and the dollars that it brings) not a journalistic decision based on the relative importance of world events.

Unfortunately, the discrepancy between the coverage of Prince's death and the Ecuador earthquake unveils the inward focus of most Americans as well as our obsession with celebrity.  If it's not happening in America or directly affecting American citizens, we're not interested; we may donate to the Red Cross but otherwise tune out the story.  After all, five hundred Ecuadorans cannot measure up to one American superstar.