Monday, May 29, 2006

News is depressing!

During discussions of current events, a phrase heard often is: "Isn't it terrible?" Unfortunately, that phrase is just as likely to be about the reporting of the news as it is about the news itself. Much of today's media criticism can be summed up as, "killing the instant messenger."

Bear in mind that I'm not referring to the increasing role of corporatism in the media; that is a very real problem and one that must be addressed before newspapers resort to printing on blotter sheets of uncut saccharin. Instead, I'm referring to the increasing need by Americans to be shielded from honest reporting for the sake of ignoring the world's problems.

People often call for journalists to be softer, to be easier on our leaders and to report more positive news. But journalism's essence lies in its invasive nature. Ideally, the press should be like an ACT proctor, milling about the room and making sure that none of our national test-takers are being spoon-fed answers from an unseen cellular headset. And I don't recall anyone saying, "Well, gee, the proctor was awfully hard on that cheater. Why can't they focus on all the students who didn't cheat, huh?" I, for one, am certainly glad today's call for a softer media doesn't extend to other professions:

"I went to the dentist today. He told me my teeth looked great!"

"But, Frieda, you wear dentures. You lost all your teeth from gingivitis in 1946."

"Yes, but I haven't lost any teeth since 1946! Why don't you ever talk about that?"

"I still don't understand why I have to remain in prison."

"Because you murdered all of your children."

"But I haven't drowned a single child since 2001!"

"Hmmm...good point! You're free to go, Mrs. Yates."

But I digress.

The problem seems to be that people can't take bad news anymore. Which sucks for them, because this is 2006. It's as if people think that, as Americans, they deserve to be shielded from that which is unsavory. After all, they work a very hard 38.5 hours per week and then have to walk home because they can't afford gas for their car anymore and their daughter needs crutches; so why not ease the pain by getting drunk off the intoxicating vibes of Fox News? After all, it's far more satisfying to whip oneself up into a frenzy over other people killing foreigners than it is to understand why the cost of living is killing you.

My advice to you truthophobes is this: treat the news as you would pop radio--don't bitch about the format just because the substance sucks. You purchased the album; now you have to listen to it. Perhaps if the average person cared more about this "depressing/bad news," then maybe we could be more proactive as a society and put a stop to its causes.


Speechie said...

I fully agree with the idea that news (and the journalists who report it) should be as invasive as possible.

In this world we depend on news to let us know what is going on in the world, no matter how univiting universal the thoughts and events may be.

Bad news makes for growth. Without it, we never learn from our mistakes and we take a lot of life for granted. So I guess that means all kinds of bad news is important. :) :) :)

T. said...

Beautifully said.