Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Well I've gotten a little more settled in to work. Not a whole lot going on, but they're keeping me busy. I can't really ask for more.

I was walking on the treadmill and was having some problems with my headphones, so I eventually had to settle on... watching CNN. After about two or three minutes, I was ready to just stare at the wall. I had a conversation with Dan Bartl a couple weeks ago about the 24-hour news networks. We were both in agreement that they have ruined the news. There's a great JibJab video about it. The real issue came up when I read a line from that little scrolling bar at the bottom; the one that just begs the question of "Do they think we're really that dumb?" The bar, which, again, need not be there if they had any integrity, said something like "Imagine being held for ransom by a threatening e-mail. Tune in at 8:00PM."

This has to have happened AT LEAST once in either a production meeting, or maybe even at an executive board meeting, at a big 24-hour news network: the chairman brings up the question

"How can we keep our viewers tuned in beyond the regular 30-minute news summary?"

An aspiring "TV journalist" pops in and says: "What if we made it so they HAD to watch?"

Chairman: "HAD to watch? Do you mean they'd NEED to watch to keep up to date?"

Journalist: "No... What if... they HAD to watch... for their own safety?"

Chairman: "Do you mean... through fear...?"

CFO: "Fear sells, chief. Just look at last quarter's ratings..."

I've almost stopped watching CNN and any other 24-hour news network because there is no doubt in my mind that a similar conversation has happened, and been seriously discussed, at least once, somewhere in America. It's scary.

Another thing: opinions aren't news. I don't want to tune in at 3:00PM or 4:00PM to have some one tell me that I'm in danger or that such-and-such is wrong because of "the facts." Shouldn't "the facts" be facts? Shouldn't the news let ME decipher the facts? How about this: instead of spending all the big bucks on having Expert # 4528 tell the audience how fiscal policy #3497 is good or bad for America, you spend it on having the facts of the policy presented in a way Americans can understand. The networks operate on the assumption that Americans are stupid in general, which is sadly close to the truth. But, it's just that Americans have become lazier. The sickening part is that while they're reporting on (pick one) the obesity epidemic, or the education crisis, or homelessness, people are watching their stupid program instead of (pick one) walking around outside enjoying life, or reading a book, or talking to some one who is homeless and not treating them like dirt or a zoo animal. I guess stupidity sells, too. The sooner we stop complaining about everything and start thinking for ourselves, the sooner we can become the country we should be.

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