Monday, June 28, 2010

... and here is the news...

I used to have a TV, but I think that the News is the reason why I haven’t had one for the last fourteen years.

Alright, the programming was, on the whole, puerile, and I objected to the fact that owning one is tantamount to inviting a bunch of salespeople who you don’t really want to listen to into your house to sell you things you don’t need (advertising), but the News took the metaphorical cake and made off with it at full speed, too.

The primary thing about the News which upsets me, is that its ‘entertainment’. Thrill as you watch missiles launched on some third world country, shudder as you listen to the latest crime reports (in gory detail and reported with thinly-disguised horror-movie relish). Experience the shock and horror of bomb-blast injuries as our cameraman shoves his camera up the victims’ noses thereby hindering the paramedics in their work. There’s a total lack of respect for human suffering – its all about what will be sensational, what will ‘sell’.

The second thing, the one which is becoming more important to me as the years go by, is realizing that because the News is ‘entertainment’, fringe behavior gets much more publicity than people trying to be sensible (which is what most people do – extremism is a rarity). Its more interesting observing gibbering maniacs, than people being reasonable, after all. It will make folk sit up in their armchairs. That it creates a skewed perspective of what is actually going on has nothing to say in anything, except that it can be useful when trying to shape people’s world-view.

Let’s try you bloggers out on this South African example, for instance: You will probably have heard of the murder, some months ago, of Eugene Terreblanche, the controversial leader of a far right wing organization known as the AWB. He ran a bunch of khaki-clad yahoos replete with swastika-like emblem, and was something of an orator after the ‘Hitler’ school of public speaking. He also engineered a failed ‘coup’ back in 1994 and went to prison for maiming a black security guard who fell asleep on duty: all in all, an ugly customer.

That he’s almost as famous as Nelson Mandela, is a crying shame because at its height of popularity, the AWB had only three thousand members. The result of all the publicity is that people elsewhere in the world credit White South Africans with a klan-like virulence which most of us don’t possess, and never did: but you have to admit, it made a good story.

The truth can distort reality, and trying to turn it into entertainment distorts both. Oh, I read the papers now and then: its good enough. I can skip the Technicolor sensationalism and without the sensory bombardment, it’s a lot easier to evaluate the significance of the offering. The headlines tell me if there is any 'real' news for the day, and very often, there isn’t.

Today's pic: perspective is everything... Looking forward to hearing yours!


  1. I heard a reporter in an interview say she thought it was a shame that just any individual could now "report" stories on the internet via blogging, or twitter or whatever- because they weren't as objective as reporters were!!! I about fell out of my chair. What arrogance.
    I still have TV and always will- but I don't watch much news. We let other people tell us what to think- when they are just getting a quick soundbite for their precious show.
    Great post and great perspective shot.

  2. We have the same problem here. There was some crazy moron who made his way to Pakistan to personally kill Osama bin Laden. He was caught there with a handgun and a sword. After being returned to the US, instead of mocked he is getting all kinds of free publicity by the tv networks who are having him on and treating him as a normal, sane person. Which he isn't.

    But, I don't watch the news on TV. It's pathetic.

  3. Here, here!

    The only reason a headline ever tells you that there's no real news is because real news of, say, corruption or deception, is often not reported or is overlooked or tolerated and this is the reason, I think, that all of us go about in a fog of unreality without ever really knowing what is actually going on.

    Good for you for not having a tv. When my oldest son was young I used to say that we should get rid of the tv because it was so mindless. He and my wife would look at me like I was crazy. The other day my son, now 21, told me that he is not going to have a tv. I about fell off my chair. I realized later it is because he gets everything he needs from the internet. The world is changing. We are all jus' rollin' down dem tracks..

  4. Dan- I was just doing my last obsessive check of email- and noticed that you about fell out of your chair too. I laughed so hard- well you know what happened. Man- I'm pretty sure we were separated at birth. I always felt I had been adopted. Was your Mom a short dark haired woman? We need to talk.
    A good laugh!!!! I needed that. OK- all done now.

  5. Hey! Well that's a surprise. I thought I was being contraversial. This particular view is one I'll admit to being a bit defensive about, because I've been told off for 'not caring' what goes on in the world, and I sort of saw that point too. Its encouraging to see that my opinion on news is shared by others!

  6. I think news / current events is important but I'm a bit turned off by the recent (probably not so recent) trend of the news to be a political voice, fear sellers, or just any of that sensational celebrity garbage.

    I have to admit I do watch TV but I like to read during the commercials. Tonight I watch Law & Order, during the commercial I read this extremely boring book about Sufism. 50 pages in I got the whole book figured out "this is the good Islam the other one is the bad one"...go figure! I'm off to the punk rock show.