Confessions of an ex-TV news junkie
Vail, CO Colorado
Here’s a statement you probably don’t expect to read from a columnist on the commentary page of a newspaper: I am woefully uninformed about current events, world issues, political topics, etc. Now that a segment of the readership has just turned the page, uninterested in why I might be uninformed, I’ll explain.
I used to be up on things. I was informed. I could name world leaders, discuss the topics of the day, quote TV commentators, carry on a conversation about ballot issues and blah, blah, blah. In a former life, I was even a press secretary for the Col-orado State Senate, for heavens sake. I knew stuff.
But then one day, I realized that every story on the nightly news was about something bad happening. War, murder, terror-ists, the crappy economy, heath pandemics, battered wives, abducted children, rape – tru-ly the worst of people.
There were video clips of politicians and newspeople arguing, mud slinging, badger-ing, demeaning their opponents.
Sports figures getting arrested for being stu-pid, making dumb mistakes, too arrogant to realize they can’t act that way, get away with breaking the law just because they get paid millions to throw around a ball and play a game and essentially never grow up.
To be barraged with one negative story after the next was hurting my heart. The gravity of everything weighed heavily upon me and began dulling my senses and diminishing my capacity for compassion. I just couldn’t take it anymore. So, despite having a huge crush on Anderson Cooper, I stopped watching the news. My desire to believe in the good of human nature and be able to go to sleep at night far outweighed my desire to be informed.
And the irony is, television news is prac-tically designed for people like me: short attention span, visual learner, a person not wanting to know too much but feeling the need to be informed with the high points just the same. It’s the way they tell the sto-ry that I object to.
Sensationalizing stories. Doomsday reporting. Creating news. Digging up new angles on tired old stories. So much of it just all seemed like a bunch of gossip, reporting half-truths and hearsay as fact. They’re like that gossipy girl that makes you cringe inside as she approaches you because one of the first sentences that comes out of her mouth is, “Did you hear that …” On a related note, my girlfriend who recently moved to Los Angles is amused by the fact that celebrity “news” stories are treated as late-breaking news and often lead the evenings’ broadcasts. Very impor-tant stuff.
I do enjoy listening to NPR on the radio. They report more thoughtfully, more deeply con-sidered, perhaps. It seems less assaulting when you are only hearing it.
One might suggest reading the news, so that I may self-edit the content. The Internet certainly serves it up in whatever form I could desire. While this carries merit, I find I don’t have the dis-cipline to do it. It becomes a big, giant time sucker.
Instead of spending 10 min-utes absorbing the news of the day, I start there and end up clicking link after link to something totally irrelevant, and then suddenly half the day is gone and I have the image of father of 10 Jon Gosselin without his shirt on stuck in my head. How did I end up there?
I think I’m old school. I like the feel of newsprint in my hands. I read the Vail Dai-ly and I still have the Sunday Denver Post delivered. I like the process of reading the paper. It makes me feel more connected and I feel in control of what news goes into my head. It’s not thrust upon me whether I want to know about it or not. And I don’t end up places I never intended on going.
I still tend to give the paper the “public relations read,” however, which means I look at a headline, read the lead and then glance at the rest of the story looking for keywords to make the story relevant to me. I’m the Google of newspaper readers.
Except the weekly columns. I always read the columns slowly, thoroughly, without interruption. They’re genius!
Linda Stamper Boyne, of Edwards, writes weekly for the Vail Daily. She can be con-tacted through email@example.com.