One of the biggest changes on TV over the past 40 years has been the way news is reported and delivered.
Watching the nightly news growing up, there was a seriousness to the broadcast. Walter Cronkite spoke slowly and grimly, and his voice depicted a grave picture no matter what the subject was. But you took him as an authority. Today, news is about ratings and popularity with outlets racing to try and grab the attention of ADHD people who can get information from their computer, their iPad, their smart phone, or streamed through their Xbox.
It isn’t enough to report events – you have to become the event.
Unfortunately, an unintended consequence is that I’m tuning out most of these sideshows. The events overwhelm me. I can only take so much before the round the clock coverage of the Ambush in Aurora, the Nasty November Nor’easter, the Sandy Hook Slaughter, and the Tragedy of Trayvon put me to sleep with their alliterative powers and their furious assault on my senses. I now have a difficult time distinguishing between what is really an important story and what has become manufactured melodrama.
I half believe that if a report about an impending meteor strike on Fort Mill were covered by cable news that I’d either turn the channel thinking I was passing by a rerun of the movie “Armageddon,” or I’d think it was just another over-hyped chance for Geraldo Rivera to mug for the cameras.
It has gotten so bad, that I know more about Miley Cyrus twerking (and yes, I had to look up what that meant, too) than I do about gas attacks in Syria. I know more about Kim Kardashian than I do this Ben Gazzi guy who has apparently caused an uproar in the Middle East. I can tell you which middle school George Zimmerman went to and which elementary school the photos of Trayvon Martin were taken from, but I don’t know the leaders of half of the world powers.
We are being flooded with inconsequential details and loose tie-ins to the massive coverage given to stories, mainly because when you have to fill 72 hours on a single subject, you end up reaching for things to discuss. In their very attempt to make news more entertaining, they’ve caused me to glaze over in a hypnotic trance where the real important stuff gets filtered out. At some point, interviewing the fast food worker who sold a Big Mac to Jared Loughner the day before he shot Gabrielle Giffords is about as useful as a Sham-Wow infomercial.
Walter Cronkite wasn’t flashy, but I listened to him. As a 6-year-old, I didn’t even listen to my parents!
You can reach Scott at email@example.com to share your favorite twerk moves.