All Newsed Out

Despite fighting an ongoing cold and a fear that I might hurt myself while using new tools with sharp edges (considering last week’s events), I’ve been driven out into the yard to finish up late summer chores by the onslaught of what increasingly passes for “news” on television.

Generally, when I’m just too “out of it” to accomplish anything truly worthwhile, I’ll settle down in front of the television and watch the news. After all, there’s very little justification for cable television if you can’t find something to watch during the day. It used to seem that CNN, CNN Headlines, MSNBC, or FOX would offer some kind of meaningful diversion for those moments when you’re too tired to do something “real.”

Lately, though, what’s passing for “news” has forced me to look for other means of passing the time. Tell me, what is “news” about pictures of an empty array of microphones awaiting imminent announcements, which often turn out to be little more than “no comment”? In what sense is repeated showing of pictures of traffic stopped while police search for a demented killer news? How “newsworthy” is the empty theorizing of experts on serial killers, especially when they lack any “facts” to hang their theories on?

I don’t want to sound callous, but local newspapers are little better when the front page is dominated by stories on the sniper. Realistically, how likely is it that the sniper will suddenly strike in VANCOUVER WASHINGTON?

On the other hand, mail-in ballots for the November election have just appeared in the mail, but, other than a short editorial endorsing this candidate or that candidate (trust us, you don’t need a reason to vote for him) there has been little or no coverage of the issues or the voting records of candidates.

Apparently, as far as local channels are concerned, they are more than willing to have voters base their decisions of the local ads that flood the air-time, ads that are worse than meaningless, ads that are, even by the best candidates, usually full of half-truths and outright lies.

Is our country really in such great shape that it makes no difference who voters elect? Could it be that Tom Paine is right when it asks, “Is This News? Most TV Stations Aren’t Covering The Election.”

Do you think it might be more important for local papers to cover facts like those discussed in "Upstairs/Downstairs: Disturbing Disparities In Wealth And Privilege" than focusing exclusively on a story that appeals more to irrational fears and our national obsession with violence?

Shouldn’t the news help us to understand the forces that shape our world today and will determine our futures and the futures of our children rather than merely “entertaining” us by obsessing on a story that has been blown way out of proportion to its true influence on our life?