I resign, I give up, I’m done with it. As far as I am concerned, it has been put out to pasture like an aging race horse with a broken leg. And just like that race horse, long ago it served an actual purpose, but now that purpose has been forgotten, with the horse resigned it’s new, significantly less important, role.
News has officially died.
Long ago, there existed these things called newspapers. You might remember seeing them lining the bottom of your grandparent’s bird cages or cushioning fine china after a move. The original, and long since forgotten, purpose of these newspapers was to present the news. After events happened, the next morning people would grab their papers off of the front stoop, wave to the milkman, read the latest Peanuts strip (man, that comic has been around forever), then catch up on the previous day’s events.
People were happy and enjoyed these papers.
Then, in the 1950’s television came about. With no shows being produced, the stations were forced to fill time with something else: news. Suddenly, people were able to hear about the news that evening instead of the next day.
Decades later, CNN arrived. Suddenly it was necessary to find 24 hours of news every day. Unfortunately 24 hours of interesting news did not exist most days. The network was forced to fill time with speculation and sensationalization, successfully dumbing down news.
The dumbing down went ten steps further with the internet boom of nineties. Having to find news every second caused websites to sensationalize things to the point that we now spend a great deal of time debating whether that news story online was true or not.
Then, websites found exactly what people loved: celebrities. Now, news takes second place to a story about Jennifer Aniston’s hair or the fashions worn at the latest American Pop Culture and Other Mind Numbing Things Awards show.
Today is the perfect example of the death of news.
Yesterday evening, a tornado rolled through Joplin, MO. Now, this is not a rare event since it is the Midwest. There are more tornados in the Midwest than people. As a Kansas, I see this more than anyone, since my state is known only for a movie about a tornado that sends a girl to a place full of witches.
This tornado, though, was devastating. At least 89 have been declared dead, with the numbers sure to rise. The city is in need of massive assistance, with government officials vying for help for the devastated city.
With an event like this, surely it would become a major topic of discussion.
Maybe in fifties, but not today.
Today, the number one search on Yahoo revolves around…. McDonald’s Chicken Sandwiches!
Okay, but sandwiches are important. Surely a terrible tornado pulls in at number two.
In fact, it is nowhere to be found on the entire front page of Yahoo, despite their attempts to pass themselves off as a news source. You can, however, learn how to be bikini ready by Memorial Day (Finally! At long last someone has tips for wearing bikinis!).
For the record, internet is great. I love it. I can read an article about an obscure punk band no one has heard of, then the next minute be watching countless hilarious viral videos featuring cats.
With that said, is there not a way we can have both? Can we not have actual news reporting without a person editorializing throughout the story? Can we take our time to publish a story and verify all of the facts before we post it? Can we add more cat videos? (That one is more of a personal request)
Maybe it’s my fault and the fault of my fellow bloggers. Maybe we’ve tried too hard to find humor in the news. Maybe we’ve dumbed down actual news events for a few chuckles. Yes, the news is depressing and humor helps it go down easy, but are we doing ourselves a disservice by approaching it this way?
Who’s to blame?
Well, quite simply, it’s us. All of us.
We have lowered our standards. Gone are the days of sincere investigative journalism, done with no bias. Why? Because we didn’t like what was said. We couldn’t control how the news was presented or spun.
Someday we might return to the days of yore, expecting our news to be correct and important instead of quick and entertaining.
The odds aren’t good though.
I’ll continue to sift through the stories about whether Katie Holmes is pregnant or whether Newt Gingrich is the son of Martians who moved to Columbus, Ohio when he was four to find actual news. It gets more difficult every day, but I’ll find it.
Who knows? Maybe it’s right in front of me. Newt Gingrich could be Martian spawn…
At 12:30, a story was finally on the front page of Yahoo about the tornado.