This article originally appeared in the USS RAVEN's Newsletter. Posted with permission of the Author- Lt. Leftover!
©01 The Media Desk
"Surly makes you loose your mind..."
Yeah, it was a great song by the Eagles. And it seems to have come true.
We now have INSTANT, or danged near so, communications with anybody in the world. Last spring the Desk exchanged a series of emails with a gentleman who had set up shop someplace unpronounceable in the Northwest Territory of Canada. Inside of an hour we fired back and forth long rambling letters on the finer points of the line between technology and theology about five times. Back in the days of the US Mail and the Royal Canadian Postal Service, that one hour's conversation would have taken a week each way. It'd been a month before the Desk got back the note that we might be better off agreeing to disagree.
In this opening year of the Twenty First Century you can watch live streaming newscasts from Moscow or Perth. The Wire Services are available to anybody that wants to check them out reporting football scores from Rio and Rome with minimal delay. Weather Updates every two minutes if you are so inclined.
And it's not just the NET. Satellite and Cable TV. The Desk listens to Short-wave Radio once in awhile, especially when something Big is happening on the International Scene. And the Newspapers... where once anything that was in the paper from Pakistan was at least a couple of days old, now it can be only hours old and still make the front page.
Some of the old timers say that the reports of Earthquakes and Wars from all over the Globe indicate that we are living in The Last Days. Well. OK, we are. And have been for the last two millennia. It's mainly due to the fact that sitting in Bahrain there is some stringer for CNN with nothing to do. So if during an Arabian Gulf storm some hotel gets hit by lightning and ends up burning down, it Will Be all over the next hour's news shows. Not wanting to get left behind, the networks will touch on it. The papers don't want to miss out, so they will have a story on it. Then the local program will find somebody with a cousin that was staying there so they will have a local angle on The Story.
How much of what is on the news shows today is not actually news? Maybe about half. Nothing that happens in Hollywood, short of an Earthquake or major brushfire, is news. Nothing that happens on another TV show is news unless the star of the show falls over dead on camera. A Baseball Players Strike is news, on the first and the last days of the strike. Not on every day in between. And 'Celebrity' is never enough reason to make something news that would otherwise be ignored. Which means just because Barbara Striesand or Jessie Jackson is there, does not immediately make it NEWS.
In Depth Coverage means you answer the basic questions in as much detail as possible... Who, What, When, Where, Why, How and How Much? You will notice a serious lack of Emotional Response words in that list. How the survivors of a shooting at a donut shop feel about gun control or the price of donuts is not news. Feelings are Not News. Period. Neither is the airing out of a political agenda unless it happens to be in the form of insurrection. Armed or otherwise.
As far as local news.... Well, that's a touchy subject. In Iowa, hours and hours of some veterinarian discussing at length Hoof and Mouth Disease (yes it's HOOF and mouth, not Foot... Nevermind the idiots on network TV) might be news. But in New Jersey? Local News has always had a local flavor to it. Today it's very watered down, but it is still there. Only on local morning and late night TV News is it obvious. Some guy and his decoy carvings won first place in a contest. A local scout got mentioned in a national magazine for something. A historic building is getting new windows. That is local stuff, and whether or not it is worthy of airtime is a call that has to be made by the Local News Programming Staff.
And you can get all of it, right down to why the East Bejesus, WV VFW refuses to replace their worn out flag, twenty-four hours a day, on Easter and Christmas, whenever and however you want it.
Artificial News Anchors will read the news from Sweden in Japanese if you want it. You can turn on the TV and seek out a documentary on goat herders in New Zealand at three in the morning if you need it. Email newsletters can greet you every morning with wisdom and insight on the F-1 racing series, and all you need to do is sign up for it with your name, and email, and a credit card in case you decide some morning you can't live without a Team Toyota racing shirt.
Does that mean that all of it is news and is worthy to be the lead story nationwide on the prime time news hour? No.
And believe it or not, in these days of instant total coverage from every inch of the globe, not EVERY day will have a Lead Story. There are still days when Nothing Happens.
Slow News Days are rare, but they do happen. And maybe that fact in and of itself should be the lead story sometimes.
But that wouldn't be...
"Life in the fast lane..."
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