MTV news on imminent capture of al Qaeda’s number-two

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Society
March 19th, 2004 • 5:15 am

I am subscribed to the VH-1 Music News service, which sends a daily e-mail digest of music news provided by both VH-1 and its sister station MTV.

I must admit that I was quite shocked today when I saw that one of the news items included in the digest was a piece entitled “Al Qaeda’s Number-Two Man Surrounded, Close To Being Captured” by a Joseph Patel.

I went to the corresponding web page and, indeed, the article is a news item about this developing story.

Now, I understand that the concept of “music news” is flexible and can be stretched to include items that have very little to do with music. But there is a limit. This item has absolutely nothing to do with music — unless you count the use of the phrase “the person who’s worked closest with bin Laden in orchestrating terrorist attacks around the world“, that is.

I realize that VH-1 is very light in editorial content and is not exactly a high quality journalistic venture. But when you are a writer or editor for a music news service, isn’t writing about things that have at least a little something to do with music one of the most fundamental requirements? It’s bad enough that we have to endure “music news” about Whitney Houston going in rehab or Courtney Love being arrested for violent conduct. But this?

The more I think about it, the closer I get to the inevitable conclusion: MTV and VH-1 are just as guilty as most other American media ventures of blatant jingoism. It’s pretty sad. As if capturing this guy — or indeed bin Laden himself — is going to make any difference in anything. It certainly won’t change anything to the fact that I am a great admirer and appreciator of American music — but it also won’t change anything to the fact that I find the politics of the Bush administration appalling and irresponsible and the attitude of the mainstream American media in all this very questionable.

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