Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Bad News, Bad Weather, and Media
Frankly, I just can't stand the gushing excitement displayed by the news guys and gals as they report new examples of humanity's capacity for violence and increasing lack of compassion. The weather guys are just as bad.
Ebola! Murder! Bombing! Rain! Wind!
After a while, it takes more, MORE to get the public's attention. Have you noticed?
It used to be we were horrified if someone was murdered. But with the spread of more and more information bites, we found that unexciting. Ho-hum. So what? Really, how many murders can you report before folks tune 'em out? Crazy people who were looking for attention discovered they were going to have to up the game if they wanted national coverage. It wasn't enough to shoot/stab/poison a couple people. Nope. Multiple victims were required. Lots of bodies.
We're fickle. Pretty soon even mass murders couldn't keep our attention. The crazies had to find some new, more horrifying way to attract our attention. Slowly, but surely, they graduated to executions, beheadings, and who know what will be next. I sincerely believe the escalation in violence is directly related to HOW such things are reported--and the duration of the coverage.
The weather folks have learned this lesson, much to their cost. Every little rain storm, every high, every low was so over-reported, the public just turned it off. The inflated excitement was akin to the boy crying 'Wolf!' After a while, people yawned and found something else to watch.
If the news media reported murders in a matter-of-fact fashion that listed the bare facts and moved on, I believe the shock value would drop like a stone. No extra coverage. No forty-seven reporters standing in front of schools, factories, court houses, scenes of devastation, repeating the same three or four facts over and over and over. No cameras flashing from scene to scene as cops try to track down bombers.
Surely there are positive events to report. If not, then why turn on the news at all? It strikes me as sad when the news can only scrape up one positive story a week. Are we really that lost?