Friday, January 10, 2014

Breaking News

Q: What do Chris Christie and Nelson Mandela have in common?

A: They both took over the news for an entire day.
It’s been interesting to watch how news gets made as a somewhat unwitting participant in it the last few weeks.
My first indication of this was when I filmed my first story on unemployment and I had the misfortune of Nelson Mandela dying the day before my story was supposed to air and the news became blanket coverage of Nelson Mandela’s death.
My next indication has been in the course of this fight to have unemployment benefits renewed. In the absence of any progress being made, Chris Christie was implicated in a scandal involving the George Washington Bridge, and then that became the news the entire day. Not only was it the only story reported on each program on MSNBC (a station I normally respect and agree with), but it became the only story on the entire network, repeated for the entirety of each program on that network, to the point where I actually started to feel sorry for Chris Christie!
It seems like each day, the media decides they’re only going to report on one story that day, even though there are countless stories that need to be reported on, and it becomes virtually impossible to find any information about anything else. I don’t know if it’s because there’s legitimately no new information or because they just need to fill air time any way they can, so they stretch one particular story in order to fill it and, in many instances (as Lawrence O’Donnell pointed out in his show about Christie’s endless press conference last night), the tough questions aren’t even being asked.
It seems like there’s been a systematic dumbing down of the news media because, like every other industry, they’re simply interested in hiring the cheapest person available in order to maximize the company’s profits, even if it means putting out an inferior product, to the point where even once-respected investigative shows like 60 Minutes are forced to retract stories on Benghazi and the NSA.
“Breaking news” indeed!

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