Is it news?
This post is my response to Jenny Matlock’s AlphabeThursday challenge for the letter “N”. My word for today’s challenge is “news.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Or is it something else?
For more than 30 years, since the advent of the Cable News Network (CNN) in 1980, American and international viewers have been exposed to news, talk, and information on a 24/7, 365 (hours/days per week, days per year) basis. I really wasn’t aware of CNN much before 1991 when they provided nearly bomb-by-bomb coverage of the first Persian Gulf War. Later, lacking more entertaining alternatives, Larry King Live became my go-to bedtime program (I usually saw the first 10 minutes of the show, but rarely stayed awake through the end!). These days, courtesy of satellite radio, CNN is my Monday to Friday drive-time companion.
Breaking News…Exclusive!…This just in…Our latest poll…
Live from the scene…
“What did they (he/she) know? When did they (he/she) know it?”
These and other attention-grabbing phrases have increasingly become part of our daily news vocabulary. CNN’s success in the 24-hour news business bred competition resulting in other round-the-clock news-centric channels such as MSNBC and Fox News Channel. All of them, IMHO, contribute to the (often artificial “gotta be first”) hysteria surrounding current events. If you then include financial news and sports channels, each adding their own spin to a single story (Tiger Woods’ recent problems, for example), one could successfully argue that we are super-saturated with information (and speculation) on every natural or man-made disaster, political race or controversy, celebrity misstep, and criminal act of our time.
I’ve often wondered, especially during recent presidential and congressional campaigns, about the dividing line between media’s job of informing the public and their ability, via each outlet’s story selection, editorial spin, and frequent repetition, to influence and subsequently shape public opinion. For example, I believe that media contributed to the 2007-2008 financial meltdown by continually reporting how bad things were or could become and, as a result, so undermined consumer confidence that the recession was more severe than it would have been without their influence. By contrast, I think media also helped promote 2010’s lackluster mini-recovery. If the media can indeed influence our social and economic opinions and actions, then that is at least one situation where I wish they had been enthusiastic enough to cause a broader recovery than we had. And, to give credit where it is due, media outlets have in recent months provided extraordinary coverage of all manner of disaster and political unrest, providing their public with a level of insight they wouldn’t otherwise have.
So…I have to label this post as personal opinion because I don’t have empirical evidence to support what I’ve written. Consider this one news junkie’s view of the (news) world.
Have you had your news fix today?