JOURNALISMPROP Searching for Nirvanas
Journalists have been searching for nirvanas in the popular culture and have found them to be elusive. Having aided in the emergence of society from a mass culture, the media have become captives of the diversity that they helped to bring about. Ironically, where they sought to discern social problems, they were perceived as mirroring them; and where they pleaded, as in the case of politics and violence, that they only were mirroring problems, they were seen as creating them. It is ironic that the mass media have gained a reputation as purveyors of oldprop when they have produced so much of the new. Even their so-called negativity has brought important problems to light. That has been a relatively selfless task, and despite the criticism, mediaprop has spoken more to newprop than to the old.
One also must acknowledge the sheer volume of information that media have produced, much of it responsive to diversity in the popular culture. In one day's output, the average daily newspaper discourses on local, state, regional, national, and international events -- be they business, finance, industry, or trade -- and its special sections highlight sports, entertainment, lifestyles, music, social events, and the performing arts. This book could not have been written save for the records of events compiled by the mass media. Yet many Americans fear mediaprop and fail to understand their functioning, as may be the case for the media, themselves.
A one-time investigative reporter summed up the dilemmas faced by media; that is, that it was easier to supply "straight news" to the undifferentiated audiences of a mass culture than to respond to the varied tastes of highly di-