legalacidity's musings


The Absurdity of Television News

Before class today, while eating lunch, I decided to tune in to Fox News to see if anything was going on in the world today. Turned out that a plane carrying a few senior Nike executives was having trouble with its landing gear--it's right side gear was stuck about 1/3 of the way down. Fox had the requisite experts--former pilot, flight instructor, engineer, etc, breaking down the situation ad nauseum while they rolled live footage of the airport and tape of the plane when it had tried to land earlier in the day. The expert kept talking about the possibilities that the plane could explore, including trying to land on its belly, with all of the landing gear up, etc. What would probably happen, according to the expert, was that the plane might have to land with the landing gear stuck, which could lead to the plane "cartwheeling over and over." The news folks and the experts were preparing the viewers for the horrific crash and death of all on the plane, right before our eyes.

Then something funny happened--the flight crew was able to get the landing gear down, and the plane landed fine, a textbook landing. The "expert" on Fox News said "Well, this certainly was anticlimatic."

What is it with news people nowadays? Somewhere along the line, the thirst for blood has overcome the desire for a happy outcome, especially in "breaking news" situations that are unfolding before our eyes. They want death, doom, gloom, chaos, etc., for ratings. It's absurd. Whatever happened to just reporting the news and exploring all of the options and showing joy when something goes right for a change? Why can't the news media report things as they are instead of flocking to one possible conclusion to a bad situation and beating it to death, over and over, until the situation is resolved?

Major murder and/or celebrity trials (often one in the same) that are covered by the media often unfold in the same way. The search for the absolute truth, which should be the goal of any trial, is often abandoned for speculation and the injection of a level of sensationalism that will insure the most possible viewers. But, therein lies the rub--we, as a public, want this type of journalism, or at least a majority of us do, because if the news channels didn't have the ratings to justify the way they do things, they wouldn't do them that way. But, I'm one of those people that believes that sometimes, the media, or the government, or whomever, has to do something that may be unpopular to the public at large but may in all essence be the right thing to do. It would be nice if the media would take this path and save us from ourselves and simply report what is there and not seem to root for a particular outcome. Otherwise, we're not far away from having a modern-day reality show that is akin to the old movie "The Running Man," which involved a television show (hosted by Richard Dawson, no less) that tracked convicted murderers as they were chased by geeked-up musclemen and killed off in increasingly bizarre ways (think American Gladiators on steroids).

Sometimes I wonder if we can't tell where a country's society is by just watching its news programs. I'm sure that the pulse of any country, whether it be the United States, Great Britain, or Saudi Arabia can be taken with great precision just by sampling the daily television news. I'm sure that what we would see would be disheartening, but then again, we'd only have ourselves to blame.

3:02 p.m. - 2005-11-21

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