Trending in America: Do our favorite news stories reflect our priorities?

I ran across one of those cool “toys” on Facebook a while back that collected all of my status updates and turned them into one neat collage. It was quite a funny picture; looking through my updates for the year gave me a pretty good idea of where my priorities rested in 2010. I have thought about that program recently while sifting through the news. It occurred to me that it might be interesting to paste all of the headlines up on a whiteboard as a reflection of what we value as a people…

What would the American collage look like? What do we want to hear and deem newsworthy? I began to jot down some of the news stories I came across in the past several weeks and paid attention to the ones that received the most attention. Charlie Sheen and the NFL lockout would grab the top spots, while news like: the U.N. General Assembly suspended Libya from its Human Rights Council (Muammar Gaddafi was really on the human rights council?), American states going bankrupt, OR if the US government taxed 100% of every citizen’s income for the year it still wouldn’t pay the national debt – allseem to be stories that go rather unnoticed. The “fine print” stories of the “news collage, ” the ones that dont trend very highare also the ones that bother me the most. I read one story that explained the state of Tennessee apparently misplaced $22 million in federal money, but I also found reports from across the country of politicians moving quickly to place education on the chopping block by cutting teacher salaries and taking dollars from public school funds.

Speaking of finances, the NFL countdown is on with owners and players fighting over $9 billion in revenue (while 14 million Americans are unemployed). Over two-thirds of the NFL stadiums were paid for with taxpayer money — money that could’ve been allocated to public education. Charlie Sheen registered one million followers on Twitter in just twenty-four hours; a million high school freshmen will drop out of school before they graduate. While we spend time observing Charlie Sheen’s unraveling in 140 character format…I wonder if one million Americans knew that Libya was on the Human Rights Council? I guess we can only hope our values aren’t reflected by our favorite news stories.

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