Tours de Farce: Media Rare
Surprised about the amount of responses sparked by the little dig we got off about the media last week when we said that all those major news outlets like The New York Times, CBS and Newsweek were hardly worth bothering with because they never mention anything about tour dates, like Gwen Stefani playing in Phoenix on October 16.
But the responses keep rolling in. For instance, we received an email from CNN crying about not having enough resources to cover both Iraq and the Foo Fighters. Then there was the phone call from ABC saying that a limited budget prevented them from listing anything like Bruce Springsteen or Avril Lavigne dates each night during the final credit roll on Nightline. And just this morning someone heaved a huge, obscenity-covered brick through our front window. We don’t know who it’s from, but amidst all the expletives printed on the brick was the phrase “Fair and Balanced.” Yeah, it’s been one of those weeks.
But somewhere in the back of our mind we’ve been wondering if maybe all the emailers, callers and brick-throwers might have a point. Maybe we were too hard when we dissed the major media players for not reporting concert schedules such as the calendar for the current Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers tour. After all, it takes a lot of talent, money and skill running a big news outlet like the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post or the Drudge Report. And it shows.
But after talking to the big media heads on the phone and reading their emails, we realized that there’s more to running a NBC or Wall Street Journal than reporting the news of the day. In fact, all the news media representatives told us that they’d love to report the dates for Green Day, U2 and The Rolling Stones. That is, if they could.
“But you’re big media,” we told them. “Can’t you report on what’s important? Like the Alanis Morissette acoustic tour, or Good Charlotte? Huh?”
That’s when each media representative politely told us how news reporting works in the new millennium. “We tried to do a story on the Backstreet Boys tour, but we couldn’t get anyone from the government to comment,” said one media rep. Another media exec told us that they tried to cover the different members of Yes doing their own tours, like that Jon Anderson Euro tour and the Howe/Squire/White tour in the U.S., but they couldn’t get anyone from the White House to go on record. Then a third media rep told us that they really, really wanted to run reports about Oasis, Neil Diamond and They Might Be Giants, but, try as they might, the just couldn’t get anyone at the State Department to return their calls.
So there you have it. As it turns out, we were way too harsh on the news media when we took them to task because they never report on concert schedules. Sure, in a perfect world CBS would lead with the Queensryche tour, and NBC would run regular updates about the Van Morrison tour. But, as you can see from their comments printed in the previous paragraph, they have a very good reason for not reporting about concert tours.
In other words, the reason the major news outlets never cover concert tours is because the government never tells them to. And when you think of it, that explains a lot of things.