Sunday, July 29, 2012

Today's Headline: Is it ME or the MEDIA?

Of late I have found myself ranting. Yes, seriously. I am shocked...shocked, I say. There have been more than a few events which have made me grit my teeth hard (I even cracked a crown), pace my floors, and repress the urge to scream bloody murder.

The cause of all this angst and anguish? The media.

Life is rich with challenges. Some are good challenges, some bad. We can't control what happens to us any more than we can control the actions of one homicidal psychopath. We try, we fail, we cry, we hug and we cope. Humans have been doing versions of this since one homo sapiens picked up a rock and beaned another one with it. However today it seems that there are media photographers, reporters, experts, analysis boffins and pretty much everyone - including the next-door-but-one neighbor - ready and willing to weigh in, or at least shove a lens up the nose of the beaner. How big was the rock? Was it obtained legally? Did anyone notice that rock being moved? Why was homo sapiens 2 beaned? Was there provocation? Motivation? Psychological issues? Oedipal complexes? What did you see? How did you feel? (Those questions go to homo sapiens #3 who was accidentally in the area evading a hungry T-rex.)

See where I'm going with this? Somewhere over the past years, the media has stopped reporting the news and started making it. And THIS is what has me so seriously pissed off.

Case in point - and one that will linger in my mind - was an interview by a TODAY show correspondent in Colorado. This was no more than 12 hours after the horrible atrocity in the Aurora cinema and if you were watching events unfold, you may have seen it. On the other side of the microphone was a young girl, probably no more than 21 or 22, whose boyfriend had died saving her. Even I could see she was in shock. How can she process something like this when it makes no sense to those of us years older than she? How can she be expected to answer questions like "how does that make you feel?" when she's probably still half-deaf from the sound of gunfire and the terrible sensation of the man lying above her taking a mortal hit from an assault rifle or whatever. I can't begin to imagine it. How could she? And WHY did they even THINK about interviewing her? Was it really necessary? Did she add a thing to the coverage of the tragedy? No. (I'm also ignoring the fact that the poor girl couldn't say two words without one of them being "like". "It was like you know, so scary." I forgive her. I could see the stress in her body. Whatever words she could find were a miracle, IMHO.)

This is one of the most recent examples of media idiocy. I won't mention the Olympic games coverage, which has always irritated the hell out of me. Apparently nobody told American tv that there were more than a few events in which USA participants weren't going to medal. And so they weren't covered at all. At least this year there are a few more channels offering opportunities to watch something other than gymnastics or swimming. Or beach volleyball. You know, the bikini event.  (Sighs and rolls eyes.)

Yeah, I'm angry, and not just because I can't fit into one of those beach bikinis and sometimes look like I've swallowed the volleyball. I'm angry that the sources I depend on to keep me abreast of what is happening in my world are no longer reliable. There are no Walter Cronkites on the tube anymore. Nobody whose words I can honestly take at face value and believe without question. (Note: I watch Brian Williams in the evenings. Out of everyone, I find him to be the most credible. But I also like his sense of humor, so I'm not sure my comments count for anything.)

No, today's news comes via hot new technologies flashing things at me online, perfectly-toothed anchorpersons with not a hair out of place unable to pronounce the word N-U-C-L-E-A-R, and - on a slow news day - incredibly thrilling remote coverage of yak races in Tibet. (The American Yak made the finals but lost to the Kazakhstan competitor by a cowbell in the final lap.)

Sadly, we have no alternatives for our information. We are held hostage by television, radio, and the internet. Used to be there were a few newspapers around that were relatively unbiased. They've gone digital. Are they still reliable sources? Umm...does the name Rupert Murdoch ring a bell? So I will still have to place some credence in the headlines on the nightly news. Revolutions in the Middle East continue. Economic figures struggle here at home, and there's a drought that scares the willies out of me. Dear Lord, please send rain to the Midwest.

But I'll be damned if I'm going to buy into the "Colorado tragedy" theme graphics; any sensationalization of national voter poll figures, or the up close interview with the poor woman who got bilked out of her life savings. (HIDE THIS PARAGRAPH FROM THE KIDDIES)  It's all bullshit, ladies and gentlemen. And these days we need one hell of a big shovel to move it aside and get to the REAL news beneath!

Just sayin'...

Sahara Kelly
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