My blog contains a large number of posts. A few are included in various other publications, or as attached stories and chronicles in my emails; many more are found on loose leaves, while some are written carelessly in margins and blank spaces of my notebooks. Of the last sort most are nonsense, now often unintelligible even when legible, or half-remembered fragments. Enjoy responsibly.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The News is Making Me Dumberer

Occasionally CNN or one of the other 24 news channels makes a morning debut when there is actual big news event that is rapidly changing, or I feel the need for background noise and NPR is running a telethon. What I’ve found amazing is the ever increasing dumbing down of the network news. Whether it’s the pretty blonde girl rapidly talking to compensate for depth, or guy who is either your best friend or far too avuncular chiming in with vague non-sequiturs, or the grizzled old guy with downcast eyes and a gruff demeanor, no one has anything intelligent to say. Maybe that is why all of the news organizations have gone to "experts" to give perspective on whatever it is that is being reported that moment.

I use to think that it was a time filling strategy, because there is rarely ever 24 hours worth of news (most days there is barely an hour). But alas, this isn’t the case. The truth is that these people (and I use that term loosely) are just hired to look friendly and read whatever is put in front of them. Any conjecture, insightful questions, or witty banter is strictly frowned upon. Instead, these paid news readers are suppose to immediately turn to someone claiming to be an expert in whatever that field is for further analysis. If the news is in some way political (and what isn’t?), they will call in two people who presumably are politically opposed. And in turn, these people repeat prepared statements and arguments from their own political side. The whole thing is choreographed so that no original thought is put forth and no one is asked a question that requires an answer that is more than a simple catchphrase or insult.

What the hapless viewer is left with is news that hasn’t really told them anything. Something simple has been stated, both sides added their spin, and the person watching the show is forced into taking one of the sides as the truth. The whole thing is massively insulting to any rational human being. Moreover, because of the overall lack of real news throughout the day, soft news (Brittney Spears, Brangelina, or whatever dumb blond is that minute’s "it girl") is reported upon just like the real news. The only difference is that the people on either side of the spin are paid to mock her and to do it with a smile. The 24 hour news stations need this infotainment to break up the constant propaganda being force fed from all sides.

In the end you are probably less informed then you were to start with. And I am left wondering why I turned it on in the first place.

1 comment:

Thomas said...

Argh! I agree wholeheartedly with your argument. I can't stand the fact that you go to hear about the news and instead the majority of what you are presented with is fluff. I don't care about Brittany Spears and her latest comeback. If I wanted to hear about that, I'd go to E! or "People" not CNN or another major news organization. The fact that this fluff news is now the majority of the "headlines" presented by mainstream news organizations is despicable. I want to hear about the latest minority woman that was gunned down and the police are dragging their feet. I want to hear about the genocide in Sudan and its' impact on the African continent. I want to hear about the latest negotiations taking place in Iran over their nuclear materials. Heck, I'd even settle for an update on Sen. Ted Kennedy's cancer. At least that has some bearing on the country. Britney's latest botched wax job may be titilating, but it's most definitely not news. I think the majority of the problem stems from the fact that news organizations are being increasingly pushed away from their roots of reporting, and are now having to justify their monetary existence. The only way to do this is through increasing ratings share. The quickest and easiest way to do this is by converting into a news/entertainment format. It's not right, but unfortunately it's fact. This is why I no longer subscribe to any US news-magazine. The only one I'd even consider is the UK's "The Economist".