A couple of years ago, the building that I work in installed televisions at the elevator landings. I’ve no idea why, but I guess they figure that people want to be constantly bombarded with news and media and the 15 seconds that we spend waiting for the lift is a perfect opportunity to cram in some utterly important information.
I never watch or consume American news. I very quickly grew tired of the talking heads, strongly biased views, selective withholding of stories and hype that became so overwhelming. Instead, both because I consider them to be (far) more neutral, reasonable and factual, and because I had an interest in continuing to follow British news after moving to the States, I rely heavily on the BBC for my news.
The thing that irks me the most about American news is that it’s just not news. To me, news is a factual, neutral reporting of events that are of importance to society. What most of us now know as news has devolved into highly-pointed delivery of largely irrelevant stories which have been spun into hyper-dramatic segments that don’t particularly focus on what happened and what its implications are, but rather create situations, possibilities, hypotheticals and outright lies that draw in the drama-hungry American audience.
Every morning that I go to work and get my daily 20 seconds of American news, I never fail to laugh at the lunacy of what people are not just actively listening to, but actively seeking out. It’s sad to me that so many people are slaves to this whirlwind of media-created hype and digest everything they’re being spoon-fed without consideration or pause for thought.
This has perhaps never been more poignant than during the current presidential election cycle where almost every day for the past year (and surely until January next year) I get to hear what Trump thinks about his sweaty opponents, why Muslims are evil and should be expelled from the States, and how women are incapable of functioning while menstruating.
The amount of irrelevance in what media organisations feed us is so enormous now that you might find it hard to find the information that actually matters. In fact, you could cut out 95% of programming and still learn everything you need to know.
This reminds me of a TED talk that I listened to a while back where the speaker questioned what constitutes “news”. He suggests that if the story won’t have any relevance in 100 years or even 10 years, that it’s probably not worthy of reporting. I think it’s a bit of an extreme view but he certainly has a point. Do we really need to know all of this information (ignoring the fact that most of what is portrayed, particularly in the American media, is not information at all), especially when the vast majority will have no impact on our lives or that we’ll forget about in a few days?
I submit to you that almost every day, the news (and by news, I mean all important international, national and local news) could actually be reported in about 10 or 15 minutes. The bombardment that we see today does a disservice to the profession of journalism that does still exist today. There are extremely talented people that do well at unearthing useful information and reporting it to society for their use but the circus that has been created these days makes a mockery of the word journalist.