No News Is...
“And that’s the way it is, Wednesday, May 9, 1973. This is Walter Cronkite, CBS News. Good night.”
“But the BIG story on Action News is (fill in the blank: house fire, overnight shooting, or car accident)”
Time was, I was a news junkie. No one could scoop me on happenings, around the block or around the world. I was a particular expert on pop culture. I loved the “feel good “stories, royal weddings and such, but also knew the rehab status of everyone from Elvis to Michael Jackson. I could hold my own when discussing the Middle East or dastardly doings on City Council. We got the daily newspaper, which I devoured front to back. From acrimonious political campaigns to local cat ladies, from the space shuttle to space-y actors—I was virtually unstumpable.
At some point recently, the internet and cable TV, and the 24/7 barrage of data, overwhelmed me and I quit checking the news, cold turkey. I couldn’t begin to keep up with all the disgraced sports stars and toppled governments. Plus, it was all too depressing! I yearn for a simpler time, when the manageably-sized morning paper was flung onto your porch, and the avuncular network anchor told you what you needed to know every night at 6 PM. Now, it has to be a pretty darned big story to get my attention…only disasters or scandals on an epic scale register on my info-meter. It’s all too, too much to process, at least for me. I figure, if it impacts me directly I’ll hear about it. Otherwise, ignorance is bliss!
My sole exception? NPR in the car. For some reason, I can handle the flow of events when chronicled on “All Things Considered” or “Morning Edition.” And I ONLY listen in the car (perhaps because my alternatives are the classical station that plays mainly obscure works by the 19th century Alsatian composer Gustav Snortfelter, or rock with tons of commercials.) Catch me after a long road trip and I’ll tell you what’s happening, locally and globally. On my ridiculously brief daily trek to work, I’m lucky if I can get Shadow Traffic and the daily weather forecast before I arrive at the office.
So I am one of the poorly informed these days, and I hate it. I’m at least 2 presidents behind in Egypt, and I may be the only person on the planet who doesn’t know the name of Kate and William’s baby (I was pushing for Spike—was I right?) I take a deep breath and flip on the set, and am immediately turned off by all the SHOUTING (note to Fox and MSNBC alike: volume does not equal effectiveness).
Is there a kinder, gentler way to ease back in to following the news? Perhaps a return to the weekly Gazette circa 1776, complete with ye olde spelling? Nope, Pandora’s box is opened and there’s no going back. But I wonder, do today’s kids know more of our collective story—or less?