THAT isn’t news!


photo
originally posted on flickr
by Stitch


While we were traveling, though unintended, I only watched television a few hours.

If I subtract the time that the TV was on a food channel at my sister-in-law’s and watching Mama Mia at my brother-in-law’s, it’s down to less than an hour of TV for 27 days away from home — and that was primarily checking for weather forecasts.

It was a good break from television and some of the things that bug me about it.

Today, watching the evening news, it struck me just how much of what is presented as news really isn’t news, at least as far as I’m concerned.

I was watching a story about the shooting of two young soldiers  — one killed — in Little Rock at a joint Army – Navy recruiting office. The story is still new so there are a lot of unanswered questions and it’s understandable that the story is still rough and not fully fleshed out.

However, a couple of things about the story struck me the wrong way.

The alleged shooter was apprehended 30 minutes later and the story had to mention that their station was the only one that had a camera at the police station when the suspect was brought in.  That’s not news.  It’s gratuitous self-promotion.

As is fairly common, I guess, they found it necessary to get some local reaction from people at the scene.  They interviewed one young fellow who had driven down to shopping center that the recruiting office was in because his girlfriend works there, she gets upset easily and, besides checking on her,  he wanted to find out  what was going on.  I’m sorry, but local reaction is generally not news.

While the specifics may vary, local reaction to a shooting is going to be predictable, but it’s not news unless the reaction is something unexpected.

For instance, if the local reaction had been for citizens to have apprehended the suspect instead of the police, that would have been news.

Comments, anyone?

commentary, give me a break!, in the news, media/news, weather
11 comments… add one
  • Bob Jun 1, 2009

    We have a station that does the same thing. "The only local station with cameras on the scene".
    Agree, this is NOT news!

  • Patricia Jun 2, 2009

    I gave up watching the news during Lent and I have not gone back. I find the 6 news sources that I have on my igoogle home page give me enough titles to understand what is going on and not a lot of filler entertainment gossipy stuff.

    Time away allows perspective to change

    <abbr>Patricia’s last blog post..And The Winner Is!</abbr>

  • Davina Jun 2, 2009

    Hi Mike. I hear you! This type of news sounds more like reality tv to me… but then again, it's not even real… it's staged. And that brings me full circle to "reality tv is staged". Ok, I'm dizzy now.

    <abbr>Davina’s last blog post..Mindful Melancholy</abbr>

  • rummuser Jun 3, 2009

    I suspect that you have stirred a hornet's nest there Mike. I bet that there are zillions of people out there like me, who will say exactly what you have said in your post. I have stopped watching news channels except to go occasionally to the BBC who still maintain some standards.

    <abbr>rummuser’s last blog post..Old Phones Save Lives In Developing Countries.</abbr>

  • Dot Jun 4, 2009

    When I was younger, I went ten years without watching the news. Yes, I missed out on some announcements of celebrities dying, but otherwise, not that much. It's funny, I was just reading something about this exact subject. The person pointed out that, thanks to technology, we not only hear about local crimes and disasters, but crimes and disasters all over the world. It does get you down. That and the fact that the only things that seem to be news are those that are sensationalized.

    <abbr>Dot’s last blog post..Creating a Household Notebook</abbr>

  • Debo Hobo Jun 4, 2009

    I agree it seems the beat writers are getting lazy, they aren't looking for news they are waiting for it to come to them. I find myself repeadetly saying "That is totally not news".

    There was a story about a dumpster in a bad part of town that was not getting emptied by the city services. The news channel went out and reported on it and it got emptied. Saying about 30 minutes after the airing of this story the city came out to empty the dumpster. To me that is not news. Like you said that is self promotion and a chance to grab some new viewers, although a non-news story like that would not cause me to tune in the next time.

    <abbr>Debo Hobo’s last blog post..Thursday Theme-Clock: Made In The USA</abbr>

  • Natural Jun 5, 2009

    sometimes i wish the news didn't report such horrible things that happen, but nobody wants to hear about the good deed, but the shooting. and you're right. they love saying we did it first or we have an exclusive. it's all for ratings.

    <abbr>Natural’s last blog post..My Bad</abbr>

  • Mike Jun 7, 2009

    Thanks, everyone, for commenting. Again, sorry I took so long to respond.

    Bob – I think it's the same everywhere.

    Patricia – I agree. Our TV viewing is at an all time low after coming back from our trip.

    Davina – Reality has nothing to do with television in my view and television is doing a poor job of showing reality.

    Ramana – Unfortunately, there are more people (boobs) who spend all of their time in front of the boob tube.

    Dot – The longest time I ever went without the news was a bit over 2 months — and I did it 6 times. Back in the 70s, submarine crews were really cut off from regular media, except for the little bit we would get by radio — and that was teletype transmissions and very censored.

    Debo Hobo – I don't know if they're getting lazy or if they're ratings systems are telling them that this is what works. Well, it may work for the massess, but it's irritating to me.

    Natural – You nailed it. It's all for the ratings.

  • Terro Jun 8, 2009

    I'll certainly agree that the kind of local coverage you describe is inane, but this story had a larger, national significance. Did the news outlet you tuned in to cover that at all? Did you seek it out on the internet etc.? Where do you turn for significant news and commentary?

  • Mike Jun 8, 2009

    Terro – Yes, it did have national significance. However, the local response still isn't news. Later stories have discussed FBI and Homeland Security aspects of the story.

    We watch 1/2 hour of local news and 1/2 hour of national news and that's about all of the television that I watch and sometimes not even that. We do NOT watch any of the cable news outlets. They have become too strident and polarized.

    I don't seek out news otherwise. I read some online, but not on a regular basis.

  • Terro Jun 9, 2009

    I read way too much news, and it can be depressing, so I understand why many avoid it. However, I don't think anyone can really be informed by network news. The ignorance (of the world around us) problem is huge, especially among young people who also lack the perspective of history (most know very little) and experience. I make this observation on the basis of 12 recent years teaching community college students. There is definitely a crisis in education in this country because also lacking in a majority of students I interacted with are critical thinking skills. These were often earnest, appealing young people, but young people woefully unprepared for civic life.

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