Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Media Static and the Noise of News

One of the great problems that the old media has always faced is the time factor. Back in the newspaper only days, it was timeliness of news. When radio came around, the problem was having to fill ungodly amounts of time, until there finally was a glut of programming. And so it was with television, and then cable. In the news front, prior to the cable news days, it was a matter of squeezing the news into a half-hour time format. This was, for most people in the pre-cable days, television news. With the explosion of cable came the 24-hour news format, beginning with CNN, the old media entry of MSNBC, and the rise and dominance of Fox news, as well as others that don't deserve mentioning as I can't remember them, there was suddenly an abundance of time again.

But news is different in the fact that it can't create programming from nothing (theoretically), instead relying on events as they play out. On some days, like September 11, 2001, the news simply overruns the news outlets. With the glut of information that filled the airwaves and the Internet the week following the tragedy, half the TV shows on cable were preempted for something about it.

On the other hand, there's the slow news week. This is when we get puff pieces and pointless punditry. It becomes the challenge for the 24-hour crowd to fill all the dead air. In some cases, it's been 45 minutes of following a car chase in one city. In others, Britney and Lindsay and Paris and any other moron who could draw attention.

The worst of this though is the wall-to-wall coverage of local stories. Drew and Stacy Peterson, Scott and Laci Peterson, Natalee Hollaway, and several others who I have, thankfully, forgotten. To clarify, I don't want to diminish the viciousness of the crime, the loss felt by the families, or the underlying story that can be told, but the three I've mentioned are really local stories. And when I have to listen to the story for ten minutes every hour that the news is on, then at least one prime time show every night has to do an hour on it, I find it a real challenge to give a shit, especially when it's endless repetition and speculation.

Local stories are interesting, but they are rarely deserving of wall-to-wall coverage for weeks on end. The rare exception is the historically significant event that redefines the way people look at things. The Columbine massacre focused us on teens out of control, as well as what parents allow and what the media influences. The murder of Jessica Lunsford became a call to stop sexual predators.

I'm not saying we shouldn't cover stories like this, but proportion is key in keeping people engaged with the news. It's a tendency I fight here in my corner of the blogosphere. I could just discuss the same thing over and over, but then I'd get bored. And with the flexibility of this format, I have the ability to scale back if I find I'm just busy filling space. My blog from Sunday, while funny, was an example of filler. And the point of producing quality material is to add to the discussion rather than to the noise. The snowy screens masquerading as viable content would do well to heed this, but I doubt they have the attention span to listen.

On a moderately unrelated note, much of my inspiration for today's blog, as it often is on Tuesdays, is based on listening to Dee. I guess I must be following her as the media does Obama, except without the stalking, and taping expensive things to doors, and making life-sized cardboard cutouts of her before which I bow in utter subservience.

Okay, I've obviously gone off the deep end. Or it's the drinking necessary as the presidential field skews farther and farther left. Either way, a little laugh is better than a Hillary cackle. Or Teddy Kennedy singing.

8 comments:

A Voice of Sanity said...
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Dee said...

LOL :-) I really enjoyed this, it put a smile on my face:

"On a moderately unrelated note, much of my inspiration for today's blog, as it often is on Tuesdays, is based on listening to Dee. I guess I must be following her as the media does Obama, except without the stalking, and taping expensive things to doors, and making life-sized cardboard cutouts of her before which I bow in utter subservience."

As for Ted Kennedy singing, the first time I heard it I thought it was a joke. Once again, time to enact a "sanity" test for U.S. Senators to pass before getting re-elected. We'd trim the senate of a lot of unwanted chaff.

Dee said...

I had to give you some linky love for that awesome compliment/paragraph. I'm working on tomorrow's post right now and your quote is getting put at the top.

Patrick M said...

Thanks, Dee.

I can honestly say that the best thing that ever happen to the blog, since I started it in at the end of October 2007, was hearing about you on the Sean Hannity Show. That gave me someone to link to, and through participating in the discussions on your blog, as well as others, I have seen my traffic finally grow. Hopefully I can send more readers your way as well.

On yet another somewhat unrelated note, it was a challenge trying to phrase that quote so as to get a laugh and not a visit from the police, or at least being banned from your site for being too scary.

So my Thursday blog will have to depart from my normal musings. Instead, I'll give you and all my other readers the backstory of SPD.

Mike's America said...

Well as long as you are not fainting everytime Dee puts up a new post.

We don't need cult figures in the GOP, we have ideas instead.

Patrick M said...

How about cult figures WITH ideas?

Mike's America said...

The last time there was a cult figure with ideas it was Jim Jones, who set up his cult in Guyana.

If you're old enough to remember the Jonestown Massacre, you'll know the result:

http://www.crimelibrary.com/serial4/jonestown/

Patrick M said...

Didn't the surviving Kool-Aid drinkers become Democrats?