This Just In: Breaking News!
Why is it always breaking? Why can't it just be news? I want it to be breaking when there is something really big happening. If some moron in Florida wants to run from the police, I do not consider it to be breaking news nor do I care about said moron in the first place. Yet, it consumes my attention anyway, even though I realize that I will never get that wasted time back.
Should I care that former President Bush choked on a pretzel while watching the Miami-Baltimore playoff game, or that Michelle Obama was wearing Jason Wu to the Inaugural balls? Probably not, but I keep up with the news enough to be able to remember crazy facts that, when recited in conversation, usually cause other peoples' eyes to glaze over.
Why do y'all think I asked to write for the Fort Mill Times? The reason is because I wanted to be involved in the wonderful tradition of delivering the news, desired and undesired. As much as I talk all day it only made sense for me to find another outlet for everything running through my head.
It is a unique blessing in this country that if a person wants to make their opinion known then they can. Here, you even have the freedom to choose the news you receive. FOX or CNN, "The Economist" or the Fort Mill Times, Al Jazeera or the BBC, they are all options and they are all churning out constant updates. On Twitter I get a "tweet" whenever something happens. In the room right next to my office there is a TV tuned in to whatever news channel I want. It is an addiction to being aware. Aware of what though?
We humans like to know the dirt and we like to see the spectacle. We like to know when people in charge screw up and when people who aren't in charge beat the odds. There is no liberal media or conservative media. There is just the universally blameworthy media, and the only thing we have to blame it for is indulging our basic desire for other peoples' business, whether it affects us or not.
None of this is new. From the earliest days of our republic when Freneau and Fenno drew battle lines of ideology between the Federalists and Democratic-Republicans during Washington's administration, to the first sensational, undeniably racist reports of a relationship between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings by James T. Callendar, the news has always been chock full of other peoples' business. The news was used for heightened social awareness as William Lloyd Garrison so deftly showed with "The Liberator," and it was used for competition by Hearst and Pulitzer.
With the advent of TV, Americans were able to see their leaders move and speak in their living rooms. Edward R. Murrow put the spotlight on McCarthy's hypocrisy using this new medium. Yet, newspapers still served a purpose for Woodward and Bernstein as they brought President Nixon's administration under scrutiny.
You see, even if the newspapers disappear, the news will still be here and we will still want every bit of it we can get.
The reason people complain about the media is because it is about as human as it gets and we all know that we aren't perfect.