Twenty-four news has been in the news recently. Not really; It’s just that the other day, my Grouch e-mailbag got filled, which is to say that I got an actual request in my “About” tab to grouse about something. When I say “just the other day,” I mean since the day I started my blog. I don’t check often, quite obviously. The request, from heylookawriterfellow, was to bitch talk about 24-hour news channels.
Now I had not considered this topic and it was not on my radar screen but, being a Curmudgeon-at-Large who professes the ability to grouse about anything at will, I steeled myself up to the task. I underwent heavy medication, slept on a horse-hair blanket in the middle of summer, drank vinegar straight, chewed on a few nails, hit myself a few times with a ball-peen hammer and I was rip-raring to go.
Whenever I need to, I can listen to an all-news, all-the-time radio station and have to admit that I like it. At set times within any half-hour segment, I know that I will get an update on traffic, weather, sports and business, with other newsworthy items interspersed. Twenty four hour television news channels are another kettle of fish entirely.
What determines what is newsworthy and how often and how long we should hear about it? Now, of course, certain events, like the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Hurricane Katrina and major earthquakes rightfully take and hold center stage for a long period of time. But what about all the rest of our not-so-worldly events? Over that last week, I am certain that an unexplained death has taken place in Moscow (population 11.8 million), a beating in Shanghai (population 17.8 million), and a robbery in New York City (population 8.2 million). Is that news and do you care? Well, if you’re the person(s) directly involved or affected, sure you care but is it newsworthy and do we need to hear about it just to fill the hours of a twenty-four hour news station?
In the last week, an 83 year old woman got attacked by a rabid beaver while swimming in a lake near a metropolitan area. The event made national news! I’m sure that this item is not going to change the course of world events although it may change the beaver population on this particular lake. Are we that desperate for any news whatsoever? Guess so.
What irks me even more that the thought of twenty-four news channels is the talking yelling heads of public affairs programs that now fill air-time. Shows like the McLaughlin Group make me apoplectic. The basic premise is to start screaming in response to a question by the moderator ringmaster until you have shouted down the other panelists circus animals. Now if one of these panelists became rabid and bit the others, THAT would be newsworthy!
Perhaps the concept could be enlarged to liven up twenty-four hour news – a combination of news items, family feud and WWF Smackdown. News anchors would report the news while screaming at each other and breaking chairs over each others’ heads in front of a live audience.
Ah for the good old days, when all the news I needed was delivered once a week by pony express.