What’s news?

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’.

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18 Responses to What’s news?

  1. I used to listen to the news on NPR. I felt fairly well-informed, although there are those who consider that a bastion of liberal propaganda. I, too, wish television news would lose the fluff and the slant and the blankety-blank yellow journalism. What can we do to encourage the networks to stop pandering to the lowest common denominator?

  2. elroyjones says:

    I miss Walter Cronkite. I can’t watch the “news” because the news is not reported, it’s screamed and it’s all fear based speculation. It used to be an unbiased reporting of facts. Curiosity has become unhealthy voyeurism. The action news reporter should spend time interviewing happy people at joyous occasions, “Why are you so happy, how did you get to this happy place, will you share your experience with our viewers?” Like you, I was deeply offended that people’s last private words were broadcast in the 9-11 documentary. Nothing is really private now, Dr. Phil is a prime example of trotting human misery out for all to gawk at. We need to practice decency and human kindness to see where that takes us. Good post.

  3. Elyse says:

    I agree! I don’t want to see the drying mother …

  4. asklotta says:

    Non-bias, non-hype news ceases to exist. Now the media inserts their opinions and literally themselves (Brian Williams) into the news…Creating, spinning and omitting the true events. Gone is the day of just reporting the news!

  5. I agree about the media circus following disasters. It’s completely inappropriate (morbid and cruel) the type questions victims are asked– “Don’t you wish you could have done more to save your loved ones? Now, that they’re gone–what are you going to do?” What’s the survivor expected to say? “My family was swept away in a flood. I’m going to freakin’ Disney world!”

  6. Someone recently said that Fox News was the Republican propaganda network and that MSNBC was the Democratic propaganda network. Answers to this question are going to fall according to one’s political leanings. One side of the coin is the Koch Bros., on the other side is George Soros.

  7. D. Parker says:

    Excellent post, your crack squirrels are in rare form and quite lucid. 😉
    I agree, as humans we’re curious, we want to know, good or bad, but the news is sensationalizing tragedy for ratings. That’s wrong.
    Have to share this, although, you might just be preaching to the converted. 🙂

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