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Thursday, July 22, 2010

(S)news

I grew up watching the news. My family would watch the news--network news, of course, as this was before cable--while having supper. Usually NBC. I remember the peacock logo. For the longest time, into my twenties, I assumed that that was how people knew what was going on in the country and world. The newspaper was delivered as well; my father read it dutifully. I, on the other hand, mainly read the comics and the sports section.

Eventually I came to love the print media, preferring magazines and papers for their more in-depth coverage of events and political analysis. I gave up on TV news. For a good long time.

Lately I've been watching again. More out of curiosity, to see what's being covered. What I've discovered is that there really isn't anything being covered anymore (was there ever?). Every evening there is a run-down of four or five stories, and I do mean stories. These are all feel-good human interest stories, devoid of any analysis of causes or conclusions. Tonight, on NBC, I watched a story of laid off workers at the Ameripure Oyster Company. Lasting less than three minutes, we learned next to nothing of the economics of the event, but we did get a concentration of feel-goodness about how people are helping these unfortunate unemployed people. Going to the NBC News website I thought I'd check to see if there would be some in-depth-ness but sadly, no. Only an embedded video that was identical to what I'd already watched. Pathetic.

Another story had more promise. It reported on the new Arizona immigration law. There was a sentence or two on why the Federal government was filing suit even before the law has come into effect (power, said a university professor), and there was a statement by a pro-Arizona law person condemning the Federal inaction on immigration reform. The report--again under three minutes--closed with a, you guessed!--human interest angle with a woman married to an illegal immigrant, begging that the good people be allowed an easier option to become legal civilians.

Almost enough time passed in all these stories to allow some to convince themselves that they actually learned something. But not quite. There is no question why viewers are leaving network news: no substance. What can you say in under three minutes that shows real intelligence and might be influential for viewers?

The network news programs are a desert. They are surpassed in their myopia only by FOX and, yes, MSNBC. Both have their adherents, choirs loving the sound of their own voices.

There simply are not a lot of people searching for real news. People do not search for news, they search only for the viewpoint that they already have, confirming the great amount of respect that they have for only themselves and those like them.

It is my opinion that the country would be much better off if all the conservatives watched MSNBC, and all the liberals watched FOX--OK, maybe not FOX but at least CNN. Something other than that which spoon feeds us our morsel of regurgitus.

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