Wednesday, August 1, 2012

10 Reasons to not like the News much

I admit.  I like watching the news.  I'll watch all kinds of strange news.  I should say that I used to like news a lot.  Now I really don't like the news much any more.  Why?  Well I've got about 10 reasons.

10 - Accuracy?  As far as you know - I have no evidence of this other than anecdotal.  There have only been a few news stories about which I have had personal exposure to the details. I found that the stories of those events were at best partially factual.  There were a lot of misunderstood interpretations and poor expositions of fact.  I felt like the entire event was misrepresented.  This has happened more than a couple of times in my life.  So what about the stories I don't know anything about?  hmmmm...

9 - Bias?  Naaaaah - This is just common sense.  People that report things are biased unless they have no 'dog in the fight'.  I like to believe that people were assigned to a particular story based on their LACK of interest in the story.  But even then, it's human nature to take a side in any conflict.  Bias is supposedly mitigated by a good editor.  But a good editor also wants an exciting story.  How do you make something exciting without taking a side?  I'm not sure.  Just understand that a news story you are hearing is probably colored by what you aren't hearing or just by the emphasis of the selected story points.

8 - Wanna see something cool? - The news more and more has turned into a smarmy side show barker.  They want you to see 'something cool' no matter if it's the latest multi-car pile up, or the last body that's washed up in the river.  You pay for this with the ads.  so in exchange for watching the ads, they will pull the curtain back and let you gaze at the spectacle like a bunch of mesmerized cats watching a laser pointer.  This of course is no different than people slowing down in traffic to crane their necks to see the aftermath of a car accident.  I know it's human nature.  Just not a very pretty side of it.  Our desire to see other peoples suffering really is unparalleled.

7 - We are really sad, see?  we are really sad - The news it seems has been told that people feel like they are too clinical, too antiseptic about their treatment of such emotionally charged subjects.  When the school bus full of disabled children goes off a cliff on their way to a benefit helping even more disabled children, the news people put on their saddest most empathetic faces.  Sometimes they are very convincing, other times they just look like they are acting poorly.  The one thing I DO know is every time a tragedy occurs on a news worthy scale the news is smiling on the inside because now they have material for the next 3 days maybe even the next 3 weeks!

6 - The news is for the young - While the news is constantly shaking their sad faces at the events of humanity, We also notice that the news is like some kind of fraternity/sorority with one older newsie to lend an air or respectability to the event and a bunch of seemingly young news people.  Of course the more tabloid like the news, the less you need any air of respectability, and the younger the newscasters will be.  Older newscasters will of course try to talk hip, just to try to remain relevant.  It's a sad exposition of what we tend to value in our news people.

5 - I can't use that source!  I might get caught! - Tapping phones...sheesh! - Every job has elements of it that are hard, but there are rules you just don't break.  Tapping phones?  That's for Government investigators with warrants, not for nosy newsies that want to get a jump on the real juicy stuff.  The mistake we make is thinking that this kind of thing doesn't happen all the time.  It's like termites.  You see one or two nibbling on an eve on the house and you have several thousand of them making a meal of your floor joists.

4 - Nothing new under the sun - Really, how much news is really news?  The names change sure, but are you really surprised to find murder, inappropriate sex, political corruption?  I doubt it.  In fact I would say that you could stop any person on the street and make up a headline containing any of the above and nobody would be surprised.  So how much of it is news, and how much just institutionalized gossip?

3 - Why didn't you tell me this story was sponsored?! - A little bit of info about the news business I didn't know.  Stories that are on after the headlines are many times, but not always, sponsored.  So when you see a news bit about a local sports star visiting the sick kids in the local hospital, that news spot was likely arranged.  I know this makes me sound even more cynical than usual, but it's true.  Even when you're not watching commercials, you are watching commercials.

2 - If it's in print, said over the air, or presented on a nice MUST be true - It really doesn't take much to make us believe something is true.  if it is written or said in a professional way, we pretty much take it for Gospel.  It's just what we do.  Thank goodness for to help us out of this informational morass.

1 - If WE don't think it's important, then it isn't - Sometimes news gets 'scooped' which means that someone else broke a story that was thought of as important to the public before the standard news faucets.  How could this happen?  Well it happens because news is produced and since it's produced they try to evaluate news for it's ability to capture the attention of the public so more people will pay their nickel to watch the peep show.  They decide what's important first and then you look at it and feel like it's important because if it wasn't, it wouldn't be on the news.  Ever see something happen that you thought for sure would be on the news later?  It wasn't was it...more hmmmm.

Lately I've just found that people that try to feed you the information of the day have been contaminating the pablum.  My wife would probably say 'What took you so long?'  It must be my bright eyed idealism.

Thanks for reading!

No comments: