The media's coverage of would-be Koran-burner Terry Jones marks a turning point: Members of the media have always been "reality entertainers who gussy up a story," writes Neal Gabler on Politico, but now they're "reality producers" who actually "invent the story." This "no-account Florida preacher" should never have made headlines, Gabler argues. "It’s like your nutty neighbor suddenly deciding to burn a Koran. Who would care? Who would even know?"
"There is a very thin line between amplifying a story in which there might be some genuine public interest and creating that interest out of whole cloth," Gabler writes. With Jones, reporters did the latter—all while knowing "that by covering him, they could be triggering an international cause célèbre that would result in ill will toward America and possibly even American deaths." They covered him anyway, because theirs is a dying industry—and "what’s a little international tension, even, potentially, a few lives, when it gets you back in the action?" (For more on the backlash against Jones, click here.)