What is news?

I’m at a conference where I am sequestered all day every day. I try to workout after the long day and then head back to room. I turn the TV to CNN to try and get caught up on what happened during the day. I have finally given up on this idea, because according to the few minutes I get to check out the status of the world each night the only thing that is happening is the investigation of Michael Jackson’s death. This is not a news story. Maybe it’s a news blurb, but not a story and certainly not one that needs such extensive coverage. CNN is the network who started this infernal 24 hour news cycle that turned the news more than ever into something t hat is marketable, not merely informative. They increased the demand for the titillating storyline and the “in depth” coverage of anything exciting no matter the lack of information. Yet, I had counted on them; CNN is the only news channel on my TV in this hotel. I normally get my news from several other sources, but I haven’t had the time to seek them out. From what I have been able to gather the wars are over, the economic crisis is over and the only thing going on is an investigation into the death of a sad, rich man.


6 Responses to “What is news?”

  1. 1 N2Blues
    August 4, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    Perhaps the sad rich man’s life was of more consequence or meaning than any of those “important people” that typically claim the news networks as their personal bully pulpit.

    If I think back 30 years ago, I struggle to remember many of the politicos of the time. However, if I think of entertainers of the time. then I can rattle off scores of memorable persons.

    Why is that? Did the entertainers lead lives of more meaning, more consequence? I think yes. I can think of no instance where an entertainer started a war, committed genocide, or locked up someone for smoking a joint. I have many happy memories directly attributable to entertainers. It may not be much, but those happy memories often carried me through tough times created by the ‘important people’ in Washington.

    Lennon was right when he wrote Imagine. It bears repeating.

    Imagine there’s no heaven
    It’s easy if you try
    No hell below us
    Above us only sky
    Imagine all the people
    Living for today…

    Imagine there’s no countries
    It isn’t hard to do
    Nothing to kill or die for
    And no religion too
    Imagine all the people
    Living life in peace…

    You may say I’m a dreamer
    But I’m not the only one
    I hope someday you’ll join us
    And the world will be as one

    Imagine no possessions
    I wonder if you can
    No need for greed or hunger
    A brotherhood of man
    Imagine all the people
    Sharing all the world…

    You may say I’m a dreamer
    But I’m not the only one
    I hope someday you’ll join us
    And the world will live as one

  2. 2 badphonekarmagirl
    August 5, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    Lennon is my hero, but the context is not pertinent here. Lennon was a serious guy with serious thoughts. I wish he was here because I would love to hear what he would have to say.

    While entertainers may be more memorable thirty years on, they are not more important. They have their place, no doubt. Some entertainers actually do make a difference in the world. Arts are our mythology an open our perspectives to new points of view and new awareness of what is happening around us. However, the majority of what we call entertainment is mere diversion. Important as well, but still diversion.

    None of the “entertainment news” is news – it too is entertainment. The blurring of the two is what I decry. I do want to know that a rich guy can pay a doctor to give him whatever drugs he wants, but it doesn’t take weeks of non-stop coverage to tell me that. Use the story that is the grab – Michael Jackson – for something more productive, like the disparity in medical care between the rich and poor.

    There are also two wars that we are fighting, that should be covered every day. Why don’t’ we have specials on that instead of Gates-gate and MJ?

    It all speaks to the fact that we are living in Idiocracy. I scan the channels trying to find something to watch and see so many shows that I simply write off as precursors to “Ow My Balls”.

  3. 3 N2Blues
    August 6, 2009 at 9:46 am

    I must disagree. Lennon is pertinent. This life isn’t about the politicians. It’s about love and happiness. If 6 billion people would rather watch an entertainer perform than watch the evening news then who am I to question. Can 6 billion people really all be wrong? It is a little pigheaded and arrogant to dismiss all those people with the wave of one’s hand and say they don’t count. They find something, whatever that is, in following entertainment. Entertainment has been around since the beginning of time. The nightly news, not so long. Again, can 6 billion people really be wrong?

    When I was in high school I played football. There was a young man, I’ll call him Bobby, that was an honorary team trainer. He was about 18 years old. He was severely handicapped, both mentally and physically. He could speak, but not clearly or intelligently. Short of being completely paralyzed, I cannot think of much more that could be wrong with him. Each Friday night he got to run out on the field with the team and help out in any way that he wanted.

    One day after another brutally hard practice I walked out of the locker room and headed to my car. I looked over in the direction of the city park and there was Bobby on a swing set. He was swinging back and forth as high as he could. His smile stretched from ear to ear and he laughed uncontrollably as he rose higher and higher. He was giving it all he had to swing that thing. I stopped and watched him do this for a couple minutes.

    As I watched Bobby my initial reaction was poor Bobby, poor, poor Bobby. He hasn’t a clue. But the longer I watched him swing the more I came to envy him. He had it all figured out. The sole question in life that really matters is “Are you happy?” All the troubles in the world were gone at that moment for Bobby. He was happy. That day was when I began to realize many ‘truths’ about life. Truths for me anyway. One is that in life it isn’t what happened to you, but how you handle what happened to you. Crap happens to everyone, but not everyone handles it the same way. Some bitch and moan, and some swing. Second, the old adage, ignorance is bliss is correct and it has an ugly sister named corollary that says if ignorance is bliss then knowledge is misery. That’s where the nightly news helps out…

    Reading books or comics, watching movies, playing games or attending plays all have a common theme. They are all wildly popular and they are all forms of escape. Why do we crave those escapes – because we want to be happy.

    I am not discounting the need for responsible people in the world that work to make it a better place. I am arguing that we should not and cannot dismiss those people that seek happiness and escape from life’s troubles. Happiness is far more important. Besides, what’s the point of living this life if you can’t be happy, even if that means examining the life of someone else, like some rich dead guy.

    I would bet that if you took away all those “diversions” that the human race would cease to exist within two years. Do that to a single person and they might make it six months.


  4. 4 badphonekarmagirl
    August 6, 2009 at 10:35 am

    Whoa. N2Blues you sound like an intelligent person, yet your argument would lend itself to everyone shooting up with opiates and “blessing” out. Ignorance is bliss? I’ve had this argument before and while it may be true that ignorance is blissful, I don’t find it very useful. For me personally, useful provides happiness. There are times I wish I could just turn everything off and not worry about anything, it would be so much easier, right? Yet, my mind runs with this idea and extrapolates to everyone floating around on their individual pods, drinking sodas in Wall-E. If everyone were to embrace your argument of ignorance is bliss… would that really be the world you want to live in?

    As you see, I used an entertainment reference above and if you look at my other posts you will see I constantly use pop culture and entertainment references in my discussion of political and current events. I am not arguing against entertainment or the arts. Far from it. I find them crucial – both for diversion and instruction. However, I am arguing against the entertainment-izing of the news. The sorry state of information that those 6 million people that want to hear about Jackson instead of current events leads to the guy standing up and vehemently stating that the government better not mess with his healthcare! It leads to people believing that the plan is for government to kill all the old people. My first thought on hearing that conspiracy theory was Solient Green. So the argument comes full circle.

    Your argument of the 6 million people can’t be wrong also jogged my mind on some other cultural references. First, the Mark Twain quote, “When you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to reconsider your position.” A little further back, you had Plato talking about the Guardian Class. If you have 6 million people that want to zone out, who will be the ones that want to make the decisions? Even further back, you have the Bronze Age myth about a woman wanting to have knowledge to be as the gods. If you buy into that myth, our ignorance ended there. There is always a trade off for knowledge.

    I do not disagree with you that we all need to live in the moment and find happiness – that we all need to take time to get on the swing. However, there has to be balance. Frankly, I find happiness in the moment and that includes knowing what is going on in the world. That is being on the swing for me. As for your 6 million people, it is fine if they swing with Michael for a while. No problem. There is that E channel and Entertainment Tonight and People Magazine. My argument is that a news channel should actually do news.

  5. 5 N2Blues
    August 6, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    You too sound intelligent sometimes ///

    My point is don’t discount the value of ‘diversions’. Again, without them you’ll die.

    As far as news reporting news, well, you’re right, it’s about making dollars. Apparently the news you seek doesn’t sell too well.

    There is a running joke on sports radio here where I live. The joke is to include a Michael Jackson death/aftermath story in the news segment everyday. The DJs joke that they will probably have enough material to last until late 2010. Today’s story included a bloody woman’s blouse with the tags still on it that was found at the scene of his death. Thought I’d pass that along in case you missed it on the ‘news’.

    I am curious about one thing. You are like a friend of mine. He will flip the tv on and watch fox news all evening long. Then he’ll bitch about it for 2 days. I ask him why he subjects himself to that. He knows the crap they will spew. He knows it will make him mad. Yet, he does it over and over again. You sort of strike me the same way. Why do that? Be happy. /

  6. 6 badphonekarmagirl
    August 6, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    Ha! The ONLY time I see Faux News is when I am subjected to it against my will – like the guys in the next office watching it. To clarify, I was more upset by the coverage on CNN because they use to be a fairly reliable source of information. Boy, they kill me now with not only the time devoted to MJ but by that silly “let’s look at our tweets” stuff! I’ve quit trying to get the news at night when I go back to my hotel room as I now have more time to hit my sources online and it was rather pointless. Now, I stick to pure diversion for my few spare moments. Can you get any more “diversion” than Sex in the City reruns?//

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