You may haven noticed that Lincolnton has been in the news lately.
The story about the charges against Michael Anthony Brown, a Concord man accused of posing as a podiatry student and then tricking a local woman into allowing him to suck her toes while ostensibly giving her a shoe fitting at the city’s Wal-Mart has been picked up by national and international news outlets.
The headlines definitely raise eyebrows, and I’ve stuck this story away in the “weird news” file, but the attention it’s getting says more about the sad state of major, corporate television news outlets than it does about the story itself.
I have a vested interest in print media, it’s true. I believe in print, I believe in the written word, and I don’t plan to ever abandon it. But my opinion on this matter isn’t all self-interest.
Someone once told me that it’s far more difficult to tell when someone is telling a lie when they’re speaking to you than when you’re reading something they’ve written. Outlets like MSNBC, Fox News and CNN spend more time justifying their less-than-covert partisan stances and sensational stories with pathetic coverage and anchors than they do bringing actual news to their viewers.
The Wal-Mart Toe Sucker story is a prime example.
Last time I checked, Russia was expanding its imperial influence over its old soviets, Iran was working with world powers to find a solution for its nuclear desires and Israelis and Palestinians were pushing toward a peace deal. And those are just three of the major international news items. The domestic news situation is just as broad.
These are far more important issues than the charges against Brown. But media will pander to the lowest common denominator every chance they get.
But there’s an even more important lesson that goes along with this story.
If someone tells you they’re an amateur podiatrist, proctologist, gynecologist, barber, nail technician, dentist, stock broker or, most importantly, journalist, and they want to ply their trade on you…don’t let them.
Michael Gebelein is managing editor of the Lincoln Times-News.