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?

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6 thoughts on “Is it news?

  1. I watch the news, then I beat myself up for giving these people an hour of my life that I’ll never get back. I’m becoming more apt to just catch the highlights online now, since it’s summer and my kids are up a bit later than they used to be. I definitely don’t want them seeing half of the things that qualify as “news”.

  2. I’m ashamed to say I rarely watch the news. I often wish there was a news channel that broadcast all the good stuff in the world…which is an incredibly naive attitude.

    My husband reads the paper cover to cover and watches the nightly news every single day, without exception.

    Having a journalism background, I often here him lament news as entertainment.

    Thank you for a thoughtful link to the letter “N”.

    I enjoyed reading this.

    A+

  3. I read the newspapers online, and the BBC News pages. I hate the way news has become ‘entertainment’, and long for a man or woman in a plain suit sitting reading the news simply. Do I sound old?

  4. To be honest, I don’t watch the news every day…maybe every other day- I have a quick look at the headlines online every day and if it’s just the ‘same old’ I don’t bother!
    Alison xx

  5. Sometimes, I relish those vacations where I can escape the news for a little while. I often feel its presentation is a bit biased and I truly hate that. I’d like the facts, maam, just the facts!

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