Monday, October 5, 2009

...and now the news.

Being on somewhat enforced (health related, not because I screwed up again) leave from work has given me a little more time of late to browse the news. I'm sort of a newshound anyway and like to be able to say that I at least read something about current events myself. I even like to think about it a bit as opposed to having somebody else digest it for me. I get most of it from various internet outlets instead of TV because I can't stand to listen to all the nonsense and non-news that the talking heads want to pass off as important. At least on the 'net I can breeze right by what doesn't interest me and take a pass on all the assorted irrelevant junk that pervades the tube. Besides, God knows I really don't need to watch yet another thrilling and meaningful 'Smiling Bob' commercial or even one more drug company hard-sell with longer disclaimers and warnings than actual pitch.

Could I just say that even though the internet doesn't actually jam stories down your throat in the manner of television, you'd better be ready to do some serious surfing if you're looking for anything that looks remotely like news? The competing agencies seem bent on out-screaming each other and from where I sit, it looks like when the real news gets scarce, they just make stuff up. I guess they need something to fill the tabs but the catch is they then expect everybody to worry about it. Case in point: MSNBC's recent breaking Business News item that "Sleeping with boss often leads to trouble".

Do you really think so? Anyone who's ever held a job pretty much has that one figured out but apparently, it's a hot story to somebody. I can see it being front page on Oprah or Springer perhaps but somehow in the grand scheme of things, I don't see it as particularly earth-shaking.

Oh and by the way...speaking of screaming and irrelevant...would someone please tell Nancy Grace to just go away? She and her ilk of both sexes are without a doubt the bane of all things journalistic. Rush, Glenn, Nancy, all of you...please just stop. First you came up with this familiar-name method of referring to the objects of your alleged reporting (as I've taken the liberty to hand right back at you), then you parade a pack of rumors and shrill innuendo past your enthralled audience and have the remarkable spinal fortitude to call it journalism. You are most certainly entitled to your opinion and of course you're entitled to broadcast it to anyone who'll listen in any format you can sell but don't try to pass it off as news or even as fact when it's not. Your antics and bully-pulpit shenanigans embarrass me and should embarrass you. I know, you're making a fortune at this so it's all good but in the name of human decency, constructive debate and our collective sanity, could you please take your money to some quiet, isolated place and shut up? I'm sure I'll come back to revisit your madness some other day so that's enough for now.

But I digress...I was starting to talk about the news and got sidetracked on non-news. In a way that's where I was going anyway. When you wander among the assorted outlets; print, television, internet, radio, you come away with the feeling that depending on where you look, you get a different slant on the same story. I'm well aware this isn't news to anyone either but it strikes me as odd these days that you have to weigh the known tendencies of a particular agency against the political and popular leaning of a particular issue or story to figure out what's really going on. Too often instead of straight up reporting, it's heavily editorial and more opinion (see above Nancy rant) than anything else. Even what seems to be strictly unbendable, statistics and hard numbers for example, are open to interpretation and political damage control. Sorting it all out is a tough row to hoe unless you're willing to take everything at face value from one source and tune out all the rest. I'm of my own opinion that far too many folks do that already.

That fast-food version of the news may be OK once in a while but it wouldn't be hard to 'Super Size' on it and have your own opinions die a slow and painful death from all the needless extra fat. With luck, I can keep chewing away at it all so that when my kids ask what I'll really be what I think, not the latest spin.

No comments: