Sunday, July 31, 2005

Not Necessarily the News

I don't know if I have written about this before, but I am going to write about it now.

I have just finished watching the local NBC news and am confused and dismayed. What is offered these days to the viewing public as news is little more than the unfortunate events that have occurred in someone else's life.

The lineup of 'stories' for this evening's program were: Minivan struck by truck running red light- two dead, minivan strikes pole while driving- three killed, car spins out on toll-road- one girl ejected; drowns, new building rivals Trump's project on lake-front, and Atkins company files for bankruptcy protection.

My problem with the 'news' is that the first three stories really do not relate to anything in my life. I feel that there is some sort of perverse voyeurism at work in modern America. What possible benefit will I earn from hearing the sordid and tragic goings on of strangers lives? To me it is mere common sense to be careful when out in the world. Is there some sort of moral to be learned from these tales of woe? Obviously, if the man in the pickup-truck was some sort of crazed-serial-red-light-runner and was part of a society of such people there would be something newsworthy in the tale. As it is, however, I do not think he set out today with the goal of t-boning a minivan full of people returning from holiday. But thanks to the fine people at channel five he has now been made a shining example of something we all know we are not supposed to do. Don't run a red light, duh, got it. Mistakes were made, true, but rehashing again and again things that we have all pretty much agreed upon as rules for a polite society is not going to get us anywhere.

My anger was furthered later in the broadcast when there were two stories (about the new lakefront tower and the Atkins bankruptcy) that I would have liked to know the five Ws about. Where, exactly, was this tower going to be built? In the picture it looks to be taller than the Sears Tower, is that the case? What will it be used for? Strictly residential, or mixed use properties? How and why did the Atkins company come to this financial crisis? Has it been coming for a long time, or was it sudden?

Perhaps I have a more insatiable thirst for knowledge than most--I am, after all, on the defending championship Snowdown trivia team--but mostly I think that the people on the television news are lazy. I long to have been born in a past generation when there was no television, or at least very little. Newspaper reporters, at least in the old days, got out there and investigated the stories that they were going to write, got the facts, and put it out there for the world to read. If you just wanted to get the basic idea of a story you could read the first few paragraphs and be sated. However, if you wanted to know more you need only read further and most of your questions would be answered.

As a lit major I may have over romanticised the role of written language in our world, but the signs are everywhere that it is dying. There have been books written on the subject...books that, sadly and paradoxically, will probably not be read by the people who need to read them. I think I just long, overall, to be part of a different time. Let me explain:

Between reading the early chapters of The World According to Garp and the fashions in the new J. Crew catalog (who I am loathe to report do not produce a big and tall men's line) I can't help but think that I might have been happier growing up during the late 40s to early 60s in prep-school New England. It could just be part of a whole 'grass is greener' business, but whatever it is the appeal is intense. There is something that seems cleaner--more simple--about that time. Not to mention the style of dress was awesome in that era. Who knows. As usual I'm probably just weird...or eccentric as some have called it. Personally I think it's endearing and it should make each and every one of you love me all the more. Ha!

-A.R. Leith

"I have a message, save your generation...from killing eachother, by sleeping in."- Jawbreaker

1 comment:

Larakin said...

I completely agree with you there, reporters and modern tv news are absolutly horrid.

I hope we are all ready to defend our title for Disco Snowdown!