Friday, July 24, 2009

This Is News?

Do you still watch the news on television? I haven't used TV as my news source for several years. However, when something really significant is going on, I have no choice - the news invades into my viewing whether I want to see it or not. They are preempting my entertainment with the drivel they think is news. There are no journalists left in television. Edward R. Murrow must be turning over in his grave. It's hard to believe there was once a time when the news was the trusted source of the truth - and that when a "Special Report" interrupted the broadcast schedule, you paid attention, because the world was about to change. Apparently, we've had some *really* significant events lately, because the news has been blitzing more than Dick LeBeau. Let's run down a few of the earth-shaking news stories that have the entire news industry in a tizzy for the last month...

(Jon & Kate + 8) / 2
This absolutely takes the prize for the biggest non-story. Let's see - family with 8 small children has a film crew follow them everywhere they go for a couple of years, and now the couple is getting divorced. Wow, who could have seen that coming? But somehow, this story was not just plastered on every gossip/media tracking/scandal show - it was also a huge story on the network news. Interviews were shown on ALL of the major news shows, with analysis of who was the unhappier party, what this means for the kids, etc. This is news? Really? According to the U.S. government, 7.5 out of 1000 US residents have been married, and 3.6 out of 1000 US residents has been divorced. Gee, I don't recall seeing any of the other thousands of divorces on the news. Sure, I feel sorry for the kids - who wouldn't - but any divorce involving children is going to impact the kids - this is NOT news! The only part of this story I found interesting was how in the world a guy could hook-up with a mistress when he has 8 kids and there are film crews following your every move. The entire story is sleazy on many, many levels, but wow - that dude was an operator!

David Carradine Was Weird
If David Carradine had fallen down some steps and died, it would have been a page 6 story with a small headshot picture from Kill Bill. If some nameless schmoe had been found tied up and dead in hotel room in Thailand, that wouldn't have made the US news at all - of course, it also probably wouldn't have made the news in Thailand either. I admit this was a weird story - but does this belong on the mainstream news channels? Exactly how does this affect the world economy, or the state of our public schools, or the war on terrorism? OK, David Carradine was even weirder than we could possibly imagine, but I'm no longer surprised by anything one of the Hollywood crowd does. I expect them to be deranged and deviant. It isn't news. Once again, the life and death of a naughty celebrity was somehow considered newsworthy by an industry that pretends to take the higher ground.

We Are The World Of MJ
You didn't think I was going to forget the story that was bigger than the first meeting of the new US President with the leaders of some of the most powerful countries on the planet, did you? What can I say about this spectacle that hasn't already been said 24x7 for two weeks? Nothing. I was a little too young to pay much attention when Elvis died, and I was definitely too young to remember when JFK was assassinated - but from what I can tell the Jacko media frenzy was on par with JFK - even though the actual attendance and personal feelings of the general population for the person were probably much less. In other words, the news did not just report the story - they created it. The JFK funeral was held on November 25, only 3 days after the assassination. The MJ funeral was held 12 days after his death. I admit that some of that time delay was caused by the coroner investigation - but a lot of that time was spent planning the huge media events. Good grief, they flew the leader of the free world's body half way across the country and they had a state funeral attended by over a million people in 3 days! Can you imagine what the modern news services would do with an event on the scale of the death of JFK? That's a frightening thought!

TV news has become yet another reality show. They show us 15 second teasers during prime time commercials to get us to watch the 11 o'clock news. The news reporters look for the most entertaining witnesses to interview, and if they can't find a scared child, a sobbing woman or a angry man, the reporters will interview each other. Celebrities increase the value of any story, and the more outrageous the situation, the more coverage it will receive. So, now we have reality shows pretending to be news, and we have nightly news pretending to be reality shows. Thank goodness for the invention of the DVR!

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