Sunday, November 16, 2008
*IFC takes a look at the U.S. media from all angles*
By Frazier Moore \ The Associated Press

Considering how many shows tell you how to dress, lose weight, fix your house or find love, it's unfortunate you don't get more help in understanding the news media.

For the next six weeks, the meager list of TV resources has been boosted by one remarkably informative entry: *"The IFC Media Project."*

Don't let the academic-sounding title put you off. This series of half-hour reports takes the subject seriously, but goes about it in a brisk, direct, sometimes wry-witted way. The series explores corporate and government influence, revenues and simple expediency, among other forces shaping the media's news coverage.

All by itself, the first piece on the premiere (at 8 p.m. Tuesday) reveals a lot — pack-journalism mentality, an obsession with ratings and the need to fill hours of airtime inexpensively — by asking: Why are the media obsessed with missing white girls?

A major part of the answer: A publicity agent who makes big bucks as a ghoulish "talent scout," identifying cases with the potentially broadest audience appeal and, with the complicity of media outlets, making absentee "stars" of the victims he helps "launch."

Another extremely valuable piece investigates how the pro-Israel lobby helps shape media coverage of Israel and relations with the U.S. It's an eye-opening look at a hot-button issue.

Next week: A primer on how the Bush administration sold the Iraq war to the American people with strategies such as the embed program and military consultants given airtime on the networks.

The series' host is Peabody- and Emmy-winning journalist Gideon Yago. And its creator is Meghan O'Hara, whose film credits include a longtime collaboration with Michael Moore on his features "Sicko," "Fahrenheit 9/11" and "Bowling for Columbine" — an association that may cause some viewers to swear off "The IFC Media Project" without so much as a glance.

But that would be a shame. Members of the public who most doubt (or even hate) the media may find useful arguments in this series. Why, then, just simmer in resentment?

IFC takes a look at the U.S. media from all angles
Associated Press

Training a Gimlet Eye on the News Media and Finding Them Wanting

TV Eye: Investigating Journalism
By Belinda Acosta