Written by Shelley Plett Monday, 24 December 2012 14:56
“I’m addicted and I just can’t get enough....” —Black Eyed Peas
“Bear-Bear” is in the front of my youngest daughter’s mind. Always. He gets hauled around in a school bag, tucked under her chin at night, served tea and cookies, accessorized with manly bear scarves, and sent on vacation with his red bear-wife Chloe and their mixed-species family.
When I watch my daughter’s fixation with her stuffed animal, it leaves no doubt about what’s on her mind most of the time. She just can’t get enough.
It’s her broadcast to the world. I like that channel. It’s upbeat, active, funny, and for the most part, family-friendly. Not your typical reality show, but if the computer term GIGO—garbage in, garbage out—applies to life (which is does) then I feel safe under this 24-hour influence.
The media, on the other hand, get hammered for sensationalism and overkill—a serious case of GIGO. Sometimes they deserve it, but it seems that’s the flip side of freedom of the press and freedom of speech.
It’s simple enough—the news is on 24 hours a day because somebody’s going to watch it 24 hours a day. It’s not 1940 anymore, where details trickle out slowly and the harsh realities of the world are only known to people within a few miles or who have good radio reception. Everybody and their aunt’s third cousin have a cell-phone camera or a blog.
If all the news stations shut down, Facebook and Twitter would make up the difference, with bonus posts and tweets complaining about the news not being on.
We don’t need junk food, right? But it sure tastes good, even if it’s not filling and leaves us with a guilty conscience.
When 911 happened, I was glued to the TV for weeks. At every chance, I turned it on because I needed (wanted) information. It wasn’t healthy or necessary, but that didn’t stop me. It happened again, on a different level, with Sandy Hook. The unimaginable is magnetic. There’s a human urge to know. And tragedies don’t get more human than that one.
The ethics in national news reporting is up for debate, but for the most part, I admire the people behind the story, carrying the job of telling all of us incomprehensible realities. I have never seen reporters visibly shaken, almost at a lost for words, until the early Sandy Hook stories came out. It was some of the best kind of reporting.
And some of the worst. Like an interview between Piers Morgan and one victim’s family members, one of whom was a police officer. Was this—a couple of days after the shootings—the time to ask the man how he felt about Obama’s statement on making gun law changes? Was he fishing for a debate?
Until his question was met with complete silence as their tears started to dry up, he apparently hadn’t considered how completely disrespectful the question was. And the interview ended. That’s the kind of reporting we can do without. Less arrogance, more sensitivity.
Minus some journalistic egos, I admire the ones who get in front of the camera or tackle a keyboard to cover the hard stuff with dignity. Some days they have to push through tears to bring us what we want. And if we don’t want it (right now), we have the right to turn the channel until we do.
In a perfect world, there would be a numerical outline of hard facts for every news story. But that won’t happen because we want our news now. So every station throws us pieces of information as quickly as they can to appease us, verification optional.
We may have a lot of problems in this country, but freedom of information isn’t one. We have a right to know and it’s definitely delivered, one way or another.
But sometimes enough’s enough. That’s when I switch to the locally written and produced “Bear-Bear and Chloe’s Vacation.” That’s my kind of drama.