Friday, January 25, 2008

Man On Mars Or Journalistic Watermark

With the outrageous coverage it has received, I first felt I would not talk about NASA's "man on Mars" image. However, Yahoo! today posted an ABC news segment that talked about the image in such open-ended terms as to intimate that no one knows what it is, leaving it to the viewer to decide for himself.

So now we will see another "mystery" enter the fold before our very eyes. A mystery that will doubtless haunt the blogs, the magazines, the chatrooms for years to come.

Perhaps it is closed-minded of me but I quite simply see a rock - a tiny one at that. Not many of these news reports are showing you the size of the "man" in relationship to the rest of the picture. It has been approximated that the little fellow is only four inches high.

Unlike other cases of mistaken identity or wishful thinking, this newest sensation is, as one might expect in the new age of Yellow Journalism, a product of the media. It was not a long-forgotten image, found among the clutter of stored away byproducts from 1970's space exploration. It came to the forefront of the world conscious via the media and has stayed there since because of the media.

It now lies at the sticky bottom of journalistic integrity messily adhered to lurid stories of Britney Spears and the manufactured scandals surrounding the late Heath Ledger. There was a time when this sort of reporting was left to lesser souls at grocery store rags such as The Enquirer or The Weekly World News. However, now one can find ABC, NBC, CNN, and many others raking this muck in their quest for the almighty rating. After all, they are competing fiercely for your attention amid a score of news broadcasts and countless websites.

A similiar competition could be seen a century ago when Hearst and Pulitzer and many others battled it out - with dire results. While I realize in this paler shade of Yellow - perhaps it's a buttercup yellow - that this amorphous four inch high rock is hardly the sinking of the Maine, I wonder if there is not another Havana harbor waiting just around the corner...

Okay, maybe I'm overstating the dilemna a bit - just a bit. Maybe I'm just sick of seeing 24/7 coverage of Britney Watch 2008, Clinton and Obama fueding like rabid dogs over a mouldy bone, and, of course, that stupid little rock.

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