Friday, June 22, 2012

And Now, For The News

I love the media, I am a news junkie of the first water.  I compulsively watch the various news channels, I check several websites on a more than once daily basis, I still read magazines and newspapers.  I MUST KNOW THINGS!  The idea of not being "in the know" is an anathema to me, I can't stand it.  I become crabby and out of sorts when too much time passes without an update of some sort, there is something going on somewhere and I have to know about it.  I'm not talking gossip and banality, I'm talking world events, life changers, that kind of thing. I will happily admit that some of my biggest crushes are news guys.

 Yes, I consider Jon Stewart a news guy, watch his show sometime, it is not only hilariously funny, but really quite informative.
 Brian Williams, solid as a rock, funny as hell when he's not behind the news desk.
Anderson Cooper's just so darn cute!

In all my obsessive news watching, I have noticed trends, both good and bad, in news coverage.  I miss the days when news organizations simply stated the facts, no spin, no creative editing, no larger agenda.  They existed only to pass on information, who, what, where, when and how.  Opinion and conjecture were only allowed on certain, clearly labeled OP-ED pages or were preceded by an announcement that the following was opinion.  We could watch or read and take it with a grain of salt or not, opinion was NEVER presented as part of the factual information, that was not only frowned upon, but punished. I think print media is still better about this sort of thing than broadcast media, simply because the print folks have to time read and reread before sending their product out into the world.  Editors are still there to proofread, correct and verify, not to create something out of nothing.
I resent the intrusion of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt into the CBS evening news, they belong on E!, or maybe MTV, not alongside a story about the latest economic downturn.  The fact that ANY legitimate news outlet spends any time at all reporting on the activities of the Kardashians makes me fear for the future. 
The advent of the 24 hour news channels has certainly helped us to this place.  How does a broadcast company keep viewers interested all the time?  What can they do that makes staying up until two o'clock on a weeknight worth it? YouTube videos.  YouTube has become a source for not only comedic clip shows, but for traditional news organizations as well.  Blurry cell phone images become "IReports", homemade stunt clips become cautionary tales and anyone who can manage to go viral becomes a celebrity for a few days.  Where did reporters go?  Once upon a time, these media hounds had access none of the rest of us did and we waited to find out from them, the professionals.  We were presented with well shot, well written, clear and concise facts.  Who, what, where, when and how. Now we have blurry, jiggly, unintelligible crap that someone has to highlight and interpret for us.  Cameramen, I love and miss you.
If you have read my previous posts, you know I am having a passionate, long term affair with the language that shows no sign of slowing down.  I love it enough to overlook its quirks and foibles, I lament its weakening with age, I dread the eventual death of sentence structure and written form.  I refuse to Twit, Tweet, whatever.  I resent the limits of 160 characters to express an idea.  Twitter and the like have added to the "sound bite" culture.  They prove that ADD is no longer a medical condition, it seems to have become a lifestyle. If something takes more than twenty seconds to read, it's not worth it?  Oh my Twits, you have no idea what you're missing.
I love headlines.  They are designed to catch you, draw you in and make you read and explore further.  That's the difference, a headline makes you want more, a Tweet gives you little more than a headline. My favorite headline this week,

 "Jackson Brothers To Tour Without Michael"

all I could think was, "Good LORD, I hope so!"

I cannot tell a lie, it DID titillate me, and I did go on to read the story.  Well played, headline writer, well played.