Friday, March 3, 2017
It seems unfair, almost unethical, but when the media have good pictures of an event, it makes the news – possibly pushing more important stories out. Even when there aren’t pictures but they want to report it, they manufacture pictures apparently just to keep us from dozing off. It happens nationally and locally.
It struck me again this week as I watched a local broadcast about a murder investigation of two young teenage girls that has received national attention. They took us to the small town where it happened to watch a reporter stand out on a street in front of the camera for a couple of minutes, reading from her smartphone that the reward is growing and the number of tips has increased. Nothing else was happening, no one else in the picture.
I’m glad the police and FBI are still working hard on the case. Overall though, this was not very useful information. A higher number of tips does not necessarily mean any of them are good tips, and a volume of thousands might just bog down the investigation. And if someone knew something substantive, I hope they are not waiting around for the reward to grow before coming forward. The report was a good way to spread public awareness, but why must someone be standing outside in the weather to tell us about it? Are we incapable of paying attention unless we get an on-the-spot report? Are they just trying to get some use out of their expensive equipment?
I thought this was only a pet peeve of mine, but a number of years ago I had an interesting experience. Playing indoor soccer in a non-competitive co-ed league, I caught an elbow in the nose and was bleeding impressively. The game stopped and both teams gathered to make sure I was OK. As I lay on the bench with a towel on my nose, some of the players from both teams soon began to give me a hard time. One player, a local policeman, suggested that they drive me to the next city down the highway and drop me by the side of the road because, according to him, the cops in that city take really good care of injured people – ha, ha, ha. I warned that they had better not because after it was all over Becky, a local news reporter who played on the other team, would be sent down to stand in the dark and report, “Something happened here a couple of hours ago.” I heard her reply, “Do other people think that’s stupid, too?”
So I’m guessing, from my sample size of one, that the reporters who are required to stand outside in all kinds of weather pointing to the spot in the road where the crash happened or to the house where the drug bust took place earlier as we see close-up shots of the street sign are just following orders, paying their dues, standing out in the heat or cold or rain or snow, until they earn a spot behind the desk. It’s a kind of initiation. For the viewers, it’s just a gimmick to keep us “engaged,” as the kindergarten teachers would say. But don’t we get a little tired of being treated like kindergarteners by the news, or is it just my (and a few others’) pet peeve?
Remember, we get the quality of news we deserve. We get the quality of government we deserve. They act the way they do in response to our behavior. The America we get is simply the sum of consequences good and bad resulting from individual choices and those of our neighbors whether we encourage or acquiesce to them.