In defense of the recent media attention to the Armstrong and Te’o stories, I would argue they are worthy of news coverage. Are they worthy along the same lines as an international hostage crisis or discussion about the pending secretary of defense? Not so much, but that doesn’t mean these stories don’t deserve coverage.
I have little patience for people who reflexively whine about media coverage of these or any other stories, insinuating they come at the expense of other, more important issues. in a 24/7 news landscape, rife with multiple cable news channels, multiple Internet news sites (remember, the Te’o story was broken by Deadspin, not CNN) in addition to traditional media sources, our level of daily media consumption is dramatically higher than it was even 10 years ago. It isn’t as though the White House Press Corp fled D.C. to cover these two stories. And I do believe Lance Armstrong and Manti Te’o are worthy of discussion.
In both cases, the public was asked to either care about them and give consideration to their stories. In Armstrong’s case, you were also asked to give your time and money to his charities. Manti Te’o never asked for your money, but the dead girlfriend became a central narrative that helped make him a national figure.
The collective media wouldn’t be doing its job if they ignored revelations of Armstrong’s cheating and the hoax involving Te’o. And no, I do not believe this coverage has come at the expense of larger news stories.
Folks are mad not because people are ignoring important news. They’re mad because you’re ignoring what’s important to them. It’s a bit selfish and condescending, if you ask me. Especially given the amount of attention we’ve seen in the media toward presidential appointments, the so-called “gun debate,” Algeria, etc. The bottom line: people love to hate the media. Especially when they do their job. And people love to hate them because it’s easier than hating themselves for ignoring Time Magazine and reading People instead.