In an interesting twist on the old adage of broadcast journalism, “if it bleeds, it leads,” CNN.com has quietly modified the news categories on its home page, to replace “Law” with “Crime”. When you follow the “Crime” link, you find somewhat greater diversity of coverage, now under the heading of “Crime and Justice”.
Perhaps tellingly, though, consider the two teaser headlines on the home page, as I’m typing this post:
“Blood near Marine’s likely grave, sheriff reports”
“O.J. Simpson headed to Las Vegas jail cell”
“Crime” is clearly a lot easier a sell than “Law”. What might that forebode, though, for the general public’s notions of law? What long-term consequences can we expect of a consumer-driven orientation of the mass media to covering “crime” versus “law”? Perhaps few. Perhaps CNN.com is simply a place to go for entertainment and titillation anyway. In that case, it doesn’t much matter whether the coverage is of blood spatter or of the Supreme Court. But if this is supposed to be “the news” – somehow, the idea of “All the News That’s Fit to Print” comes to mind – I have to wonder.