I don’t have many unhurried mornings, but I enjoy getting a cup of coffee and scanning the news websites to find out what’s going on in the world. My wife actually reads the newspaper. I’m too lazy for that, and I don’t like all that paper rustling so early in the morning. I like getting my news from several sources, because they seldom agree on what they think we should know about.
When I was much younger (anyone under the age of twenty should consider this an alternate universe), we could read a newspaper or let Walter Cronkite spoon-feed it to us on the TV at dinner time. Edwin Newman occasionally taught us the English language and Eric Sevareid provided “opinion.” They weren’t much to look at, but they delivered the news. I think it would be fair to say that, compared to today’s news, they tried harder to be unbiased. They separated “hard news” from “opinion” for us. We tended to believe that “hard news” was unbiased. That was incorrect, is still false and will never be true. When another human being speaks or writes to us, it is inherently biased. In sixty-plus years, the only unbiased creatures I’ve ever found were dogs, and even they have their days.
I suppose we thought that when a person wrote a newspaper story or sat in a broadcast studio wearing a coat and tie, it seemed more official. When real news occurred, they were often at their best because they didn’t have time to be biased. Younger readers may have sensed this in the reporting of September 11, 2001. Those of us who are older remember November 22, 1963 and octogenarians will recall December 7, 1941. None of the dates are pleasant to recall, but we likely received the most un-biased reporting of our lives on those dates, and the content was real news.
Today’s news doesn’t seem like news to me. Here’s a sampling of some headlines: 1. “Why We Have Chins” 2. “What Makes The Sound When We Crack Our Knuckles” and 3. “Miley Cyrus: Confessions of Pop’s Wildest Child.”
I actually read these, and I don’t know why. These days, I feel like my brain time is limited and I wasted part of it on this mindless drivel. All I ever needed to know about knuckle cracking is what my mother explained in two words: “Stop that.” Why we have chins isn’t news. It’s physiology and anatomy, but it’s not news. With the exception of the Windsor royal family, I’ve been seeing chins on people for quite some time now. I don’t think that what Miley Cyrus did with a wrecking ball is news. Nothing against Miley Cyrus; she seems to be pleasant enough despite her personal boundary issues and involuntarily reptilian tongue. But should she be front page and “above the fold,” as we once called important stories?
On days like yesterday they should find someone who looks and sounds like Walter Cronkite, and he should say, “Not much going on today, folks. See you tomorrow evening at 5:30.” Or couldn’t we simply do without news on days when it seems trivial? What’s the harm in that? People always say “no news is good news.” Sometimes we say things without meaning it. I do that.
When news providers pander to “what we want to see and hear,” then they begin to look and sound suspiciously like Congress. We don’t need two of those.
And that’s the way it is.