No… that isn’t a typo… I want to start a serious discussion about the way the news networks are evolving into some weird hybrid of news/speculation/opinion/sensationalism/biased/morbid freak shows. I have been thinking about this for a long time now. I remember watching some CNN documentary on the 9-11 attacks and listening to them play the recorded phone messages of people… the last words these people would ever speak in this life, saying one last thing to some loved one before they met a horrible end. They are now doing the same thing with the victims of the flooding in Texas… the last words of a missing person to her family… not an actual recording, just the quote… over and over again.
I suppose you could make the argument that the 9-11 attack show was a documentary, but that leads to another issue… should 24-hour news channels have documentaries? And if they do, and then show them again on the ten-year anniversary, shouldn’t it be shown on the history channel?
All of this seems wrong on so many levels. If you tell people a flood is coming, that is both news and a public service. If you tell people a flood is happening, that is news. If you tell people a flood happened and so many people lost their lives, that is news. But why the hell is it okay for the news people to stick cameras in the faces of survivors or the friends and relatives of survivors, and start asking them questions? Why are we personalizing the misery this way? is it part of our nature? Is this really what we want?
I know we are all a little morbidly curious. If we drive by a car accident and see a tarp covered form laying on the ground, we can’t help looking… and wondering what happened and who it happened to. But would we pull over to the side of the road and ask the lady getting put in the ambulance who the deceased was and did he say anything interesting before he bled to death?
Once again, I just want to start a dialog… I want us to think about this and talk about it and maybe figure some stuff out. I don’t pretend to have any answers, but I like to think I ask decent questions. Is it good for society to have this constant info-stream of negative images flowing at us? Is it healthy for our group consciousness that every time something bad happens the vultures of the media circle over it and film it from all angles.
In one of the books in my action/humor science fiction series… available over there in my sidebar, by the way… I wrote a short chapter where I stated that every time humans got together to fight each other, or perform a terrorist attack, or harm each other in any way, the aliens would all gather around and watch and record the event, and that the people inflicting the pain would feel uncomfortable doing it while being watched and that violence began to become a rare commodity. But every day we can see ISIS extremists battling any number of other people, and they never put their guns down when the cameras are rolling. It might even make it worse.
I don’t know where I… and my head full of crack squirrels… are going with this. I know we all have the right to turn off the news. But living in a bubble and being unaware of the woes of the world doesn’t seem like a good answer either. The occasional light ‘fluff’ or ‘feel good’ news segment doesn’t counterbalance the horror of constantly replayed explosions or police confrontations or riots or civil unrest or war.
The only thing I am 100% sure of is that the most cynical, disingenuous, deceitful, ironic use of words in the history of the English language is FOX news calling itself ‘fair and balanced’.