Archive for December 19th, 2010

by lizard

As I have been following the emerging tabloid-like coverage of the now infamous Jason Christ, it occurred to me that pot-crusaders and panhandlers have something in common: the dogged attention of the Missoulian.

for example, read the first chunk of reportage by the Missoulian’s Gwen Florio in the latest installment of the Christ saga (italics mine):

Jason Christ, perhaps Montana’s best-known medical marijuana proponent, faces an accusation of felony intimidation in connection with an alleged bomb threat at the Verizon store on South Reserve Street in August.

hmmm, perhaps this bowl-roasting psycho (my opinion) is “Montana’s best-known medical marijuana proponent” because the Missoulian is all revved up about reporting on him. because he’s controversial. because that sells papers.

obviously y’all know where I’m going here, because I’ve said things like this.

the influence of local media sources like the Missoulian, though in decline, are still powerful actors in how certain hot-topic subjects get framed.

take, for instance, the headline of this recent article:

Kalispell woman sentenced for covering up death of medical marijuana patient

the victim referred here as the “medical marijuana patient” is 49 year-old Wesley Collins. read this article for more context.

my questions is this: why does the fact some medicinal marijuana was “shared” by the victim and the assailants, and the theft of some plants (in addition to other things stolen, like cough syrup with codeine) warrant the murder victim be reduced in the headline to a “medical marijuana patient” instead of WESLEY COLLINS?

this topic–critically examining how certain topics are reported–is touchy, because I know people working for the Missoulian and connected to both the issues cited in the title of this post.

but i also think that these days, with some corporate media enterprises struggling for survival (thus willing to fan any controversy that may translate to sales) it is absolutely necessary to remain skeptical about how certain issues are handled, from headlines to comment threads.

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