Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My News, Your News

Last evening we were treated to a commercial for KPRC-TV news where the anchors explained with charming body language that the news they delivered was a "conversation", that what interested them was what interested us, that they were focused on giving us the news we want...

Let me think. What interests me are things like literary fiction, how to seed a pasture, when to plant haricots verts, how to prune a climbing rose. I don't really think that's going to get much air time on Channel 2 somehow. And I don't want it to.

I don't think it's healthy for a culture's news to be passed through the filter of what the listener wants to hear. For crying out loud, people! The news I want to hear doesn't exist yet. It doesn't even have the probability of existing without a sea-change in human nature. (Examples: peace and civility among all people; lives free from pain and deprivation; and a screeching halt to global warming.)

News should be news. Stuff happens that affects all of us: let's hear about it. A fire in an apartment house affects the people in the immediate neighborhood--strictly speaking, I'd let it pass. A man gets drunk and stabs someone--a terrible thing for the person stabbed, and for the drunk man, too, and for all their loved ones--but it's not affecting all of us, is it? And we certainly don't need to see the bereaved weeping for the camera's pleasure.

I want to know what laws get passed that affect us, what taxpayer funded projects hit complicating snags, how much pollution got spewed out into the air we all breathed last month, or more recently if those figures are available.

If the excellent residents of New Mexico march on Texas, or vice-versa, that would be news. If a refinery blows up, you bet: news. Drug murders along the border, crime sprees, those would qualify. How our sports teams fare, that would be news for a local station.

The defining filter would be the effect on the common good, upon the interets of a majority of people within the geographical radius served by the station.

It's the news we need to hear. Our love of trivia, our desperate need for entertainment have nothing to do with it. And if providing that news cuts ratings in half, then precede it with a half hour of amusing nonsense--oh, wait. They already do that.


Ralph W. said...


The Weaver of Grass said...

I do so agree Bdogs.
I hate the way the media do a story to death - focus on peoples' faces in their grief- hound people for the sake of it. I have taken to only listening to the news once a day - otherwise my blood pressure rises.

Ralph W. said...

About fifteen years ago, two of my neighbors' small children drowned in the family pool. I was totally disgusted at the way the media acted. When I came home, I had opened the garage door for one reason or another and stepped into the house to turn on the TV. A few minutes later there was a guy from a TV crew leaving my garage with my tall stepladder. He was insened that I made him put it back immediately.
Many likely remember the incident involving Jessica Savage in Lake Jackson. A plane full of passengers had landed there following a hijacking. My old roomate from college days was the federal officer in charge at the scene. Her antics almost caused some innocent people to lose their lives. No officer's instructions in such a situation should go unheeded. She likely never knew how close she came to being shot. To the local station's credit, she was fired immediately.

sizzie said...

I followed a news story that involved a family member. I knew what had actually happened.
All the networks and many local newspapers covered it. Every one picked up the first, inaccurate telling. In other words, no one fact checked. I remember that when hearing any news now. (my wv is libbel...how cool is that !)

Anonymous said...

Great post! The media should stick to the news and let us bloggers deal with the amusing nonsense. ;-)


JLeonid said...

I appreciate what you're saying. I can't believe what I've seen on nightly news from local affiliate stations is representative of the community as a whole. Murders, isolated house fires, and assaults. It's mostly just regurgitating what they heard on the Police Blotter while driving to the scene.
I have to think with conscious effort, news media could change the "bleeds/leads" aesthetic to something more productive, and not go out of business in the process.