Most of what passes as news today is scintillating; is stirring; is fixating; and is, without restraint, offered aplenty. Today’s news stories do as they were designed, they get our attention. From the tease, “coming up on late news”, to the hook, “the popular actor, shown here being arrested…” we are inundated with information about the comeuppance or tragic down fall of others. Our attention is arrested , captured by the hook at the end of the lure, and we love it. We love seeing the personal misery and shortcomings of others as news — differently than we do atrocities. Probably because, as it tears others down, it unconsciously lifts us up. We the viewer feel as though we are not as bad as are the people in the reports. Look at them, they are terrible. Look at me, by comparison, aren’t I a Saint? On the other hand, we tend not to place blame or show concern for atrocities, natural disasters or wars, or the resulting traumas, unless, of course, it happens to us. We see such news worthy events as being out of our control, and therefore of less concern to us. So we turn our head, or we turn the channel.
Sadly, most of the stories we glue ourselves to are devoid of meaningful breakthroughs, stirring abnormalities, tragic events, or new developments on cutting edge stuff, the stuff we really should be paying the most attention to. Instead of sharing their journal’s labor about the real threats to the Earth’s polar ice caps, and dangers of global warming, real or man-made, most reporters seem mostly concerned with the personas of the political characters involved in the debate and their ranking. The issue itself, sans pronounced substance, becomes a a wayward allegory, a distant attachment held on to loosely by an unwinding thread.
A story deprived of it’s real meaning isn’t a real news story.
A line from an Aretha Franklin song declared gossip to be, at times, the most stirring, the most wanted, the most desired. It did it by asking what had to be the most important thing to know — the 411 on “Who drop kicked who?” (From the song “Jump to it”) Another example of song and rumor would be a recording by Don Henley. He sang about the spreading of dirt; give us “Dirty Laundry”. Though those songs aren’t of today (from the 1980’s) they could as well mirror attitudes of today.
Here in good ole 2019, could our desire for dirt be much worst than it was 35 years ago? Artist today are super quick to share their own dirty laundry, tribulations, challenges, and battles, in song, as they are to dispel rumors. Today’s artist, some would say, have taken breakup songs to a lower plane. Entertainment and news reporters alike (more alike now than not), can’t help but report on news of personal affairs and give thanks to the news ratings and circulation Gods. They often make mention of Taylor Swift, they love her for her music, especially her personally revealing song lyrics. It gives them something to report on, something to talk about. The clashing hearts. The wayward affairs. The broken hearts, and torched friendships. The public eats it up. But, reality music isn’t news at all. Really?
Yes, it is true, tabloid journalism has now gone main stream. Political sport has become likened to professional wrestling. Such has replaced meaningful news as news. Meaningful news just doesn’t pay. It literally isn’t worth reporting on. In alignment with those developments, news anchors have become eye candy, star attractions just as salacious as the news. So much so they themselves, sometimes, become the news.
What is to be done about news that really isn’t news? What are we, or they, the givers and receivers, to do about it? Is there anything we can do? Would changing our viewing, listening, and reading habits provide a fix? Do we want a fix? Could changing how and what we report be the elixir, the curer of our ailments? Perhaps if we simply got back to keeping entertainment news, sports news, “real” news, and political sport separate. If so, perhaps separately, each field of news would become more meaningful, better done, and truly more worth our time and consumption.
And then there is the internet, to which this writing was published. Information overload. More frill, less real news. But on this occasion hopefully more substantive.