What's So (Prime Time) Special About LeBron James?

urlHave you heard or maybe read? LeBron James is a free agent. And, in about one hour, he will officially announce where he will be playing next season and beyond on a live, prime time TV special on ESPN.

I remember when prime time TV specials were actually that – special – typically on a topic or individual of maximum importance to our society or world. But this? This is nothing more than sensationalism and hype and a way to sell commercials and make money as we watch a world class athlete and millionaire becoming even more of the latter. Do we really want or need to watch this?

You have to give Disney and ESPN credit. They are the masters of marketing and promotion. And never mind the myriad of games they run, I’ll sit there for hours watching the NFL Draft for goodness sakes (although the move this past year to weeknight prime time was, again, all about the bottom line). You also can’t fault any media outlet for doing what it takes to try to expand shrinking margins.

Yet, there has never been a tougher time to generate coverage for what I would deem “real news” – a charity making a difference in its community; a volunteer giving of his or her time to help the less fortunate; a start-up business that is leading a charge in new, green technology. The news “holes” are there but limited.  On the one hand you can give kudos to the NBC Nightly News for their “Making a Difference” segments; on the other, you can lament that their segments are brief and run less prominently at the very end of a newscast.

My point is that while LeBron James signing somewhere/elsewhere is legitimate news, devoting an hour (plus, if you count the lead ups) packaged as its own show only further underscores that our priorities are “out of whack” and that, all too often, the news media does not act in the public interest.  That is my opinion, at least. Now, pardon me while I get ready for next week’s MLB “Home Run Derby.”