One of the more depressing things I've come to realize this year is that Americans are under the impression that important, or significant, news happens by the hour, day, or even week. If you really think about it, really important events only happen maybe once a month, or even once every few months.
If you watch CNN at all you, you will notice that "breaking news" is anything from JP Morgan's acquisition of Bear Stearns to Brittney Spears alleged reports of being molested as a child. I ask you, why are these two stories being juxtaposed with one another? Who decides that these stories are "breaking news?" For that matter, who has the authority to tell the American public what "breaking news" is, and why does that person have this authority?
It seems that because somebody decides that "breaking news" happens by the hour, news reports are filled with minutia that ultimately do not benefit the American public. Are you honestly more informed that Elliot Spitzer patronized a prostitution service? How does this scrap of trivia benefit your life exactly? Or how do any of the hourly stories benefit you?
For example, does the fact the news media reports that Obama may have had sexual relations with a man in 1999 affect the way you vote in November? For that matter, what about the stories run about Hillary, McCain, or Huckabee? Do most of these stories influence the way you vote and think about the presidential nominees?
It seems that all news programs, everything from CNN to the local news, is filled with supremely unimportant material that does not truly benefit anyone.
However, one may argue that local news reports important events to people in the city. For example, a local Wal-Mart may get robbed in the course of the night.
Although alarmingly, the robbery of a Wal-Mart is not important in the grand scheme of things. But the 5 o'clock news is full of stories just like these. Stories of rape, murder, abductions, bankruptcy, budget deficits, etc. Even to the uneducated masses, the news is depressing to watch.
And while the news is constantly reporting unimportant events, there is the issue of the local news' uncanny ability to pick truly ignorant people to interview. At least in the case of African Americans, the media always seems to have a knack a choosing the eye-witness who fails to use subject-verb agreement. I understand if the media wants to speak to the eye-witness to help flesh out their story, but the media DOES NOT have to put that person on the 5 o'clock news. Its representations of the public such as these that sustain stereotypes, especially of minorities such African Americans.
It seems the news media machine, local to national, is self-empowering. The "breaking news" that it reports is not always, or ever, advantageous to the American public; I suggest that the "breaking news" is almost always working toward the advantage of the news media. It seems that the "breaking news" functions to keep a perpetual sense of fear among Americans. Americans who live in fear of murders, rapes and abductions watch to news to learn more about the crimes as so they can remain safe. The news functions not neccessarily to inform the public, but it functions to keep people watching.
Not many from me... I don't pretend to have the answers. It seems ludicrous to advice people to just stop watching the news altogether. Maybe, it would be better if the people got a great news magazine once a month. It would keep them informed on important events. But its only an idea.