Talking heads, self-appointed experts ruining TV ‘news’
A week or so ago, Editor Randy posed a question in his Griz Bear column, “Can you become too patriotic?,” which resulted in some deep thinking (when you’re my age, deep is pretty shallow water, just right for skipping rocks into the deeper pool). Anyway, his column caused me to think about a question that has been floating, tumbling or skipping around in the old brain, so I decided to pursue it a little: “Can you be exposed to too much news?”
Sometime back, maybe sometime this year, the old ‘cuff discussed my frustration with the three all-news networks. (I use the term “news” loosely). Their coverage during the past three or four weeks — make that six months — has involved Russia. It’s Russia this and Russia that and Russia … well, you know what I mean. Of course they (the heads of these news systems) throw in some bits and bats about Obamacare, the FBI, immigration, fake news and, lately, revival of an every election year topic, voter fraud. Put all these together along with the … whoops.…
Sorry about that, the phone just rang and I found I had won a great vacation package from someone somewhere who uses a 479-787-9—- number. An overly-friendly voice just wanted to ask me a few questions, so I replied, “Could I ask you a question first?” Sound familiar? I am so fed up with robo calls and their irruptive nuisance. So many are hidden behind a 479 and or a 787 number. I seldom answer one, but I needed a breather from the past few paragraphs and my rant about too much news almost turned into a rant against robo calls. So back to the news question, “Can you be exposed (hear or watch) too much news?”
First, I think news is extremely important. It was the freedom of being able to dispense news throughout the colonies that played an integral part in the foundation of our great nation. I wonder if nuisance robo calls had been available then if the revolution would have occurred. Maybe, against robo calls? You get the picture.
Anyway, news is important. What is so disturbing and so disgusting so much of the time is when the talking heads or self-appointed experts inject their slanted opinions into the news channel. If they did it occasionally and each such session was preceded with the disclaimer, “This is an opinion segment,” and possibly an attachment, “which may or may not be true.…” But no way, June Bug (I dare not write Jose, it would be … what is that term? … politically incorrect.
Newspapers, our Arkansas Democrat-Gazette carefully uses its editorial pages to present many different opinions, and they are so labeled. The letters to the editor are a blast; some offer good opinions, some get way out in left field and often seem to violate the principle that “personal attacks and libelous or defamatory statements will not be published.” But, overall, most writers convey a thinking process which complements the guaranteed “freedom of the press” which is as important today as it was when our constitution was written.
Maybe I’m just from the old school which enjoyed Walter Cronkite and the other news anchors who sat behind a desk and read prepared reports into a mike, and sometimes there were even brief film clips that enhanced some reports such as showing wrecks or disaster scenes or an occasional politico answering a question. If a response from another side of the question followed, it too was brief and didn’t include a half dozen wanna-be’s jumping into the fray. Yep, those were the good old news days.
What is good about the news scene today is the amount of local (make that area) coverage provided by area stations. Do you remember when the only station you could pick up on an antenna was KOAM in Pittsburg, Kansas? It provided pretty good coverage for isolated northwest Arkansas since, well, there was a void of TV in these hills. That station and, later, Joplin stations provided weather information for Eagle Observer country. Remember weatherman Earl Ludlum with his pointer stick? The oval TV screen wasn’t half-covered with a radar promotion strip across the top of the screen and the single stationary map stayed in place. Now the screen is covered with broad areas that flip so fast they are sometimes unintelligible.
Talk about straying from the subject, “Can you be exposed to too much news?” The answer is “Yes” and “No.” How about “maybe”? News is important. Being able to sift through the good stuff and that some of which could be called “rubbish” is the challenge. I guess it’s about time to turn on the boob tube and flip between at least two of those 24/7 news giants. I’ll probably become annoyed, especially if a robo call interrupts the session. Hey, leave off the “o” and it could very well be a rob call.
Epilogue: Honestly what brought this up was a recent “Hi and Lois” cartoon in my favorite daily paper (I’d be lost without that morning ritual: news, opinions, cartoons, sports and even the legal notices). That cartoon strip pictured Lois listening to a friend who said, “Lately I’ve been trying to improve my overall state of mind.” Lois asked, “Are you seeing a therapist?” to which her friend replied, “No, but I’ve stopped watching the news.”
Thank goodness, in our great free United States, that is still an option.
Dodie Evans is the former owner and long-time editor of the Gravette News Herald. Opinions expressed are those of the author.