Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Out With The Old

So, I’m watching “60 Minutes” as usual on Sunday evening, and after Andy Rooney’s turn on the soapbox, I am treated to “a look at tomorrow’s CBS Evening News”

This has been going on for awhile now and I don’t get it. If I walk up to you in the diner and tell you what’s going to happen tomorrow, is it still news 24 hours later? Hardly. By then it’s history.

Obviously I’m aware that it’s all about selling insurance, soap, laxatives, cars, kitty litter, brokerage firms and feminine hygiene products. I further understand that it’s about out-pimping the other guy and grubbing your bucks first. But it has nothing to do with informing us. It’s just commerce. And if it’s not new, it’s not news and they should stop calling it that.

They try to rationalize it by making the distinction between “breaking news” and “continuing stories”. Further confusing the issue are our choices between local news (morning, noon and night), national news (major network talking heads) and the 24-hour news services (redefining overkill.) But above and beyond the wave of phony news and lowest common denominator pandering to our pocketbooks is the question “What is the NEWS?”

Tedious, blaring reminders of plane crashes, massacres, shuttle explosions and babies stuck in wells ten or fifteen years after the fact is not NEWS. As far as I’m concerned, events cease to be news as soon as they are broadcast and then new events move in to take their rightful places in the headlines. I empathize with the people who lost loved ones on 9/11 or in Oklahoma City, but ...holy shit...that is not NEWS and hasn’t been for a long time.

If it’s not late-breaking, or if I was informed of it yesterday then it falls into one of three categories; 1.) Ancient History, 2.) Recent History, 3.) No Longer News. There is no such thing as old news. Tell me what happened while I was asleep or at work. If it’s the same stuff you told me yesterday, why are they telling me again?

WHY? To unload what must surely be several warehouses filled to the rafters with Garden Weasels, Chia Heads, gravy injectors and Slim Whitman tapes.

It is undeniable evidence of the pathetic decline of information media into sheer hucksterism. The lines between blatant advertising and real news have finally been erased. The NEWS now exists for the sole purpose of selling more NEWS. There are thousands of stories, quirky, heartbreaking and chillingly provocative, which go untold each and every day. But they just don’t have the oomph to move the Wheaties and disposable douche off the store shelves, and so, they will remain untold.

And that’s the news…

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