Another One Bites the Sensationalist Dust


The front page of the Chicago Tribune today led with the article, “Have you seen her Doll?” The article reported on the tear-jerker surrounding poor little Abby Ann Telan and her doll that was sent to “never-never land” because of a pressurization problem in the jetliner that carried Abby and her family home from vacation in Chicago (the purpose of their trip from Florida was to "attend sporting events and shop," including a visit to the American Girl Doll store where Abby Ann’s now-missing Marisol Luna doll had her hair styled). Reading through the article, I kept waiting for the real news, but was appalled to find that almost the entire story focuses on how a little girl, “‘can’t even [see] her vacation photos because the pictures of the doll would upset her.’” How about the kids whose parents can’t afford to go on vacation, much less an American Girl Doll (or the oft-under-reported 18% of U.S. children who live in poverty, according to the latest census bureau info)? Shouldn’t the lesson here be that the vacation experience is what is important, not the loss of a doll? This article and those like it -- reports on Paris Hilton's misdemeanors or which musicians oppose which politicians -- are a slap in the face not only to good journalism and people who care about the news, but the entire population. Media outlets, especially print, may be struggling to gain readership, but reporting on nonsense news like this is irresponsible and pointless. And splashing it across the front page is even more appalling. It seems everyday more and more newsrooms fall victim to sensationalism. It is the responsibility of the media to inform the people—do we really need to read about a little girl who lost her dolly--when soldiers are fighting, California is burning and children still have inadequate healthcare. Is it really in the interest of the people to read about a little girl who’s most significant hardship is the fact that her American Girl doll fell out of an airplane? Or a follow-up story about the out-pouring of responses from other American Girl Doll owners who have made donations for Abby Ann to replace her beloved Marisol Luna (don't worry, American Girl came to the rescue and is express shipping Abby Ann a new Marisol Luna even though the doll is no longer in production)? This is the kind of reporting that keeps our population ignorant and uninformed. By Becki Scholl In These Times Publishing Intern

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