To the average American news viewer, the military coup that just deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi may come as a bit of a surprise. This is largely due to the fact that major news agencies have devoted most of their coverage to the George Zimmerman trial. While there may be merit to covering the trial, the lack of coverage on the situation in Egypt confirms an ever-growing theory: American news agencies are terrible at both prioritizing and covering pressing news.
In the age of the internet and network society, coverage is accessible for just about anything from Edward Snowden to internet cat Lil Bub's birthday. However, in terms of relevant importance, some of these stories should gather more time than others. Hint, it's not Lil Bub.
To the credit of news agencies such as CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News, Egypt was at least mentioned. Wolf Blitzer, feverishly covering every aspect of the Zimmerman trial, noted that something "historic" was happening in Egypt. Additionally, he stated that CNN was monitoring the situation. Apparently we don't need to hear the news anymore; news agencies just monitor news for us.
CNN pundit Ashleigh Banfield actually tried to at least announce future coverage of the situation in Egypt, but was literally cut off for a commercial break. Nice try Ashleigh.
The biggest crime of the news agencies is actually influencing what Americans care about. Some might even call that entertainment. A recent chart for Google Trends shows a deep fascination with the Zimmerman trial, and very little interest in Morsi and Egypt.
This isn't to discredit the implications of the Zimmerman trial. The role of race in the trial is part of a larger discourse in American society, and is certainly more relevant domestically.
However, there's a pretty big case for covering the coup in Egypt. The removal of a democratically elected president, who had taken power after the revolution of the Arab Spring, has some pretty big implication in the world of foreign policy, regional stability, sustainable democracy, etc.
Yes, news agencies should be covering both, because both are important. However, they're not even close. Prior to the coup, Morsi gave a final speech to retain his power. This would be what Blitzer called, "historic." Despite the importance of the speech, the three major news networks did not cover it. The only way to watch it was on the internet. Yet, live coverage of the Zimmerman trial dominated the channels, and Egypt is merely a footnote, a cut-off footnote at that.
It's bad enough that these same agencies have already taken criticism for poor coverage of the Boston bombing. Not reporting the news may be an all time low, considering that reporting the news is the main role of a news agency. Prioritizing one story, for entertainment value, while essentially not covering another is nothing short of terrible. Yes, there is coverage of Egypt now that Morsi is out. However, these agencies are going to have to double back on why this has happened. It might be easier if it had been covered before.