Monday, September 19, 2005

Urgent Breaking News

     After all the talk about sensationalist blonde-girl newsstories designed to distract and lull the populace, do you suppose the Right wing media knows the jig is up? After the blogosphere pushed national news into covering the LaToyia Figueroa case, do you think they've had enough?
     Apparently not. And apparently my contention that the 24-hour news cycle is a contributing factor to sensationalist non-news is flat wrong. On a day when Katrina rebuilding efforts are still ongoing, there is controversy about New Orleans residents returning home, John Roberts is undergoing confirmation hearings on him becoming the 2nd youngest chief justice of the US Supreme Court, a new tropical storm is about to hit Florida and potentially steer towards New Orleans as a hurricane, North Korea forswears nukes (yeah right), and the Georgia Tech quarterback contracts viral meningitis, the Fox News (sic) Channel last night threw up a banner screaming, "URGENT NEWS" about a missing 17-year old pretty White girl named Taylor Behl at Virginia Commonwealth University. Are you effing kidding me? 2,000 people, 85%+ of which are children, go missing every single day in the US, and suddenly Taylor is "Urgent News" dominating Fox's broadcast?
     I flipped over to the CNN channels to see what they were talking about. Headline News was on their 5-minute sports presentation and CNN had Larry King interviewing Viktor Yushchenko, the President of Ukraine who had just fired his entire government. (Actually, that's quite impressive for King. How does he get the leader of the 25th largest country in the world to put up with 50 degree studio temperature and air consisting mainly of his flatulence?) Today, Foxnews.com has downplayed the case, although since I don't watch TV news much (and especially not at work where I'm pretending to be working), I can't tell what they're doing with their viewing audience.
     I know Bush has been taking a nosedive in popularity as of late. But has Fox News (sic) become so desperate to prop him up that they are sinking to such obvious efforts to distract their viewers? Or have they honestly decided that missing White teenage girls are the "real" news and the largest disaster in American history is merely filler?

16 comments:

Ben said...

I won't defend the ridiculously extensive coverage of Natalie Halloway, but you got to remember that these people have to fill up 24 hours of news every day. EVen they get sick of seeing flood images all the time, and that Russian dude is just creepy looking ever since his poisoning, so maybe a cute white girl isn't the worst thing they could waste their time on? This is why 24 hours news may just be too much. But half an hour is not nearly enough. As long as people keep tuning in to watch the popular story of the day, they'll keep wasting time on it.

Otto Man said...

I won't defend the ridiculously extensive coverage of Natalie Halloway, but you got to remember that these people have to fill up 24 hours of news every day.

They could fill that 24 hours with anything. In-depth reports that would hold Washington accountable for what it does and what it spends. Health reports that amounted to more than scare headlines. Political analysis that goes deeper than the usual horserace bullshit and actually explores the candidates' platforms and issues. They have the power to set the tone, the agenda, and the attention of the country and the world, and yet all they do is replay plots from Lifetime movies. It's pathetic.

Yes, they've got time to fill, but they're wholly in control of how they fill it. I've got to fill my stomach every day, too, and yet I'm smart enough not to try and subsist solely on Pixie Sticks and Mister Pibb.

Sylvana said...

YES!! I'm so sick of the crap that they are trying to pass of as news!! Pretty soon they will just piece together a bunch of snippets of The OC and call it a day.

News is not supposed to be about what is pretty and fun to watch. And don't tell me that people aren't watching some dumb ass teenage blonde in Aruba story because they feel that it is important to the world being whole again- they watch it because it is titillating, exhilaratingly scary, and yes in a macabre way- FUN! People can fantasize about the boogeyman coming to get them or their loved one. The reason that the white, pretty woman is used is because the news is directed at "White America". This audience identifies with other white people. They are also more horrified that something so tragic could happen to a white person. Other races, well, that's to be expected, I guess. No news there- right?

I'm sick of it. News is supposed to inform us of IMPORTANT things. Things we need to know for our daily lives. Things like you mentioned, Scott.

This whole thing reminds me what white society did to blacks not so long ago. Drumming up fear in the community that our young, white women were in danger of being victimized. It was a great way to get support for segregation and continued lower status in the community against blacks. I just wonder who the boogeyman is supposed to be this time? Slacked morals? Terrorists? Liberals?

Ben said...

Yes, they could fill up those 24 hours with legitimate news and analysis, but who is going to watch? The same few people who watch CSPAN a lot, and are addicted to political talk. They want to attract the masses, the kind of people who vote based on how good their guy looks on TV, and while I find Supreme Court deliberations fascinating, the ratings would destroy 24 hour news in no time without the Natalie Halloway type stories to keep the masses interested. If the masses shared my interests, then MTV would have been off the air from low ratings years ago.

Which brings me back to my original point. if you want serious news, then 24 hours is just too much. You can't fill it with intelligent content and still get viewers.

Sylvana said...

You're right Ben. And that is a very sad commentary on Americans. Most of us don't want to be bothered with important information, information that will actually make a difference in our lives. Most want the easy, quick, interesting stuff- whether or not it is important or factual.

ORF said...

BBC News, people. BBC.

Otto Man said...

Yes, they could fill up those 24 hours with legitimate news and analysis, but who is going to watch?

CNN's recent hour-long investigation of the Iraq WMD story, "Dead Wrong," was one of their highest-rated hours all year long. Blew their normal ratings out of the water.

People will watch real news. It doesn't have to be the mind-numbing approach of C-SPAN. They can be both entertaining and educating.

Hell, Sesame Street's been pulling it off for years.

Thrillhous said...

Who wants them to fill up all 24 hours with news? I'd be happy if they could manage 3 straight hours of news each night.

(Besides, everyone knows the best place for Missing White Women coverage is Court TV.)

Ben said...

Otto Man, that's really great that a lot of people watched one hour of well-crafted reporting. But if they expanded that one hour to 24, no one would watch more than the one hour. Again, you cannot fill up an entire 24 hours of news with only good journalism. One, there's not enough news worth talking about for that long, and two, most people won't watch and ratings will go down. A lot of people like to cite CNN as real news and Fox as news-tainment. If that's true (which I don't agree with), then it only supports my argument, since Fox kills CNN in the ratings except during huge stories (Katrina, 9/11).

sideshow bob said...

Maybe they could broadcast the news from the Island of Missing White Blonde Girls...That would kill in the ratings!

Sylvana said...

I don't think that 24 hour news stations are supposed to have a enough stories to fill up a whole 24 hours. The purpose of the 24 hour news was so that you could get the news when you wanted to or had time to watch it. It was meant to loop a smaller amount of stories throughout the 24 hour period and throw in updates as they occured.

Otto Man said...

Otto Man, that's really great that a lot of people watched one hour of well-crafted reporting. But if they expanded that one hour to 24, no one would watch more than the one hour.

Why? Because you say so?

They put out a little good stuff, and people flocked to it. Why exactly would they not want more?

And like Thrillhous said, even if they just put three hours of this on a night, I'd be happy.

Ben said...

Like I said, a lot of people conisder CNN to be high quality compared to Fox, and yet Fox, with it's more news-tainment style, kills CNN in the ratings. As it kills CSPANN.

Shannon said...

What do you have against Yushchenko? Since the "Orange revolution," I hadn't been following Ukranian politics, ahem, but I had the impression that he was a decent guy.

Ben said...

Probably because he made his money through hard work and smart decisions instead of government handouts.

Shannon said...

LOL, Ben. AS frustrating as they can be, your instigating comments always make me chuckle. That was a compliment, btw.

Nonetheless, I wouldn't go that far, though. We are talking about the former USSR where "decent guy" is a relative term. I'm sure he's not without his brides and handouts.