I Used to be a News Junkie

I used to be a news junkie.  Now I just wallow in useless information. It’s a little like shifting from imported beer connoisseur to vodka swilling barfly, and the vodka is not Absolut. Just Smirnoff. I’m not a drinker but back in the drinking day it would have been more like going from Boones Farm to Grain Alcohol. Labels Schmabels. 

priceonomics.com

(A more accurate comparison for me back in the day would be going from designer Blue Dot to Windowpane. Holy God. Whole different trip there. Anyway, It’s news I’m talking about. Or, what used to be news.)

After the 2008 presidential election, I turned off the news. I did not turn it back on until the 2012 presidential election. If I were a drinker I’d have bought some vodka. Absolut, for sure. No more television news coverage for me after 2012, at least not about elections.


In order to save myself from sliding further and further into a spiritual and emotional funk, and to be honest, so that I am able to carry on a conversation with anybody younger than thirty-five years old, I assigned myself a Cultural Awareness Project and watched alternative news programs, such as CNN, MSNBC, and several popular network television programs. It was painful. Too painful. I shelved the Project for a later date.   I’ve given up trying to engage Gen-Xers as well as those gens younger than Xs’.  I just listen and nod when they go into great detail about what was posted on Facebook or Twitter or what cool and bloody scene they recently witnessed on The Walking Dead or The Bachelor.  I do watch House of Cards but it’s starting to give me that same creepy feeling I get when I (accidentally) watch reality shows.

It seems to me that news, information, and entertainment have now blended into one medium: Social Media. There are still programs and entire networks which refer to themselves as news organizations and a quick Google search reveals a long list of news channels and networks, such as, ABC, CBS, and, even NBC is listed, if you can believe that.

I guess the masses are just too busy, too lazy, too entertained to indict these criminal news agencies and run them off the air. A long list of violations of our trust, brushed aside as we ooh and ahh the bombshell news anchor while she trots out her new baby or puppy for millions of adoring fans. To hell with the truth, “Look how shapely and fit our celebrity talking-head is and just a few days after having a baby!!”

Too bad for Zimmerman.

Whatever you think of Zimmerman, the Peacock Network willfully defamed him.

Read more

 

Ahh, the slippery slope of technological genius: The World-Wide-Web. All the news that’s fit to…well, all the news that fits. And then some. News, information and entertainment have been blended into an opaque syrup that slides down the gullet, easy and sweet.

Just toxic fallout, I suppose, from the massive information super-highway that most of us travel every day, whether looking for a job, trying to find out why we can’t find a job, checking the weather in case we have to go to a job, reading blogs about how to dress in bad weather for a job we found on the web, watching cats swing around ceiling fans, or, just surfing: Information comin’ atcha’ 24/7.

Centerforfoodsafety.org

Maybe every great advancement for humanity requires sacrificing the purest form of a thing. The advent of modern agriculture in the Industrial Revolution infused early farms with pesticides, soil erosion and water waste. We can feed the world now but we are eating a side of chemicals with our fresh veggies. A fair trade? Personal choice, I guess.

Local news has morphed into entertainment segments which showcase the clever personalities and behind the scenes shenanigans of local news celebs, briefly interrupted for short snippets of actual newsworthy events.

 Journalism used to be an honorable profession, a calling, and absolute necessity for a properly informed free republic. It’s just so much entertainment now. Easier on the palate, I  guess.

News anchors and reporters, humanized into the guys and gals next door, try to make us feel connected to them, like we know these people personally and therefore believe that the news they deliver is accurate and true, making it impossible to distinguish opinion from news, and the truth becomes moot as long as Little Suzie Newsie looks super cute while she delivers.

The audience, relegated to the upper seats, is simply entertained by news actors who toss out candy-coated peanuts and shake their moneymakers to our childlike delight. Oh! The news is so fun!  The orchestra seats are filled with corporate sponsors who dictate the narrative of the newsfeed like so much propaganda.


As I wallow around on social media and visit local network news pages, it becomes increasingly excruciating to read what passes for news. Forget about journalism. I’m not sure many of them attended any kind of formal training on writing or news reporting. Most of them skipped grammar class, that’s for sure.

Fans who insist that news should be mostly fun, immediately attack any negative comments posted about the story or the writer, “Leave them alone! They’re just having fun! Can’t they be human too? Does the news always have to be bad?”


Can’t the news just be the news?  Pass the vodka, please.



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5 thoughts on “I Used to be a News Junkie

  1. indiaguerita says:

    I’ll pray for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. BzirkWorld says:

    […] Red Cup–just to protest the whole hullabaloo. Brilliant marketing scheme, especially since the ‘news’ media in America really has nothing else to talk about now except for Ben Carson’s scholarship and […]

    Like

  3. […] Red Cup–just to protest the whole hullabaloo. Brilliant marketing scheme, especially since the ‘news’ media in America really has nothing else to talk about now except for Ben Carson’s scholarship and […]

    Like

  4. bethbyrnes says:

    Well, I can’t disagree on the whole with what you have laid out here, cleverly and well said.
    If I were to make one observation, it would be that television or internet news isn’t really the best place to get information.

    If I want to know about Europe, I read the European newspapers — admittedly, online these days. But, they are faithful replicas of the print versions. Similarly, I read the NYT or the LATimes or Washington Post or Wall Street Journal, for news.

    However, if I want to understand, let’s say, climate change, I read professional, peer-reviewed articles in dedicated journals. I don’t need Al Roker to tell me about climate. I can read and digest primary data for myself, as most professional journal articles have to include the raw data, as well as the researcher’s conclusions.

    If I want to know about fashion, I read Paris Vogue — because that is what will eventually show up on the streets here, maybe a year or two later.

    Anyway, TV is entertainment and personality-centric. I watch it to relax or be amused, not to learn.

    Good topic!

    Like

  5. bzirkone says:

    Thanks for the comment and I agree of course, that real news is readily available from many sources. I use some of the same syndicates that you mentioned and others, often seeking sources with opposite ‘slants’ to see how both sides are representing the same truth.

    My focus when I started this piece is to illustrate that while we used to watch the morning and evening news to catch up on current events, we are now forced to endure cooking tips and fashion hints and celebrity break-ups–between short snippets of actual news.

    Some folks–clearly the majority I guess, enjoy ‘getting to know’ the news actors, I just don’t have much interest in them personally. If I want to watch a cooking show it is not hard to find one and if I need to figure out if my yellow satin sash matches my knee-high leather boots, well, I call one of my daughters or just Google ‘yellow satin sash.’ Both sources deliver in spades.

    The 24/7 news cycle changes the delivery of information as well as the content and by default, the narrative. Local news stations in particular have been hard hit with challenges to stay relevant and it is now just SOP to violate journalistic standards in order to do so.

    Mainly, I am making fun of everybody here, myself in particular.

    Thanks for responding. I’ve enjoyed perusing your blog with the rich photography, and while you don’t often directly editorialize, you sprinkle your political and social philosophies throughout your essays. It’s a fun read. -bzirkone

    Like

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