Saturday, September 5, 2009

I read the news today, oh boy

I find myself, in the last year or so, less and less able to read the news. Well, just the phrase 'the news' doesn't mean what I mean. Is the news by Fox? By Huffington Post? By any of the plethora of supposed news reporters that report so called news, now that news and entertainment have become so incestuoustly mixed?

Years ago, and I'll take a stab and guess at least 20, I was reading an article on the demise of newspapers due to a lack of interest in the reading public. Or perhaps, just 'the public'. It was too hard, they moaned. USA Today was founded in 1982, so maybe that 20 year figure is not quite right. But Al Neuharth, its founder, knew a thing or five about what was going on in America, and it worked. I remember when it was called McNews and that was not a compliment. But soon, other newspapers around the country were using more color graphics, publishing polls asking what the READERS wanted to read. Huh? Well, they have that now...

I remember when the Wall Street Journal wasn't entertaining unless you had deep pockets and a stockbroker. It wasn't supposed to be entertaining! It was the Wall Street Journal!! Remember? Grey suits? Oh yeah, but then it became 27 year old gazillionaires who forgot to take any sort of lit class in college on the way to theiir MBA's and the idea of reading for pleasure and the idea of reading for business got all mixed up because what was life without business and pleasure was something you could buy, otherwise why the business? You following this, buddy/buddette?

And then it all went to hell. Oh, not THIS time! Contrary to what the conservatives are trying to push, hoping for the ever so short attention span of the broad American public, this is far from the first time we've been in an economic bust because of big business playing games with money. It's just that this time the game got bigger than the players. Oopsy! So now, pleasures of the ones still holding the bucks (not me or most I know, but there are a fair amount out there) have to be had sub rosa...which I would imagine puts an illicit little thrill factor in them. So this is just another flow in the cycle. There there, relax, it will be over soon, one way or another. Really! Check the news!

Does it seem that I digressed from news being barely recognizable as news anymore? You know, the facts? Perhaps, but it's all of a piece. Because when news became infused with what used to be called, officially, commentary; when news became infused with what people used to see as entertainment, then people stopped really knowing what was news. They could get a side, a face, a voice to tell them what the news was and give up on the practice of thinking about what position they actually took on what was actually going on.And depressing.

My solution? I think I'll go back to what I used to do many years ago. Before computers, before internet (and yes, Virginia, before internet there were computers...what the heck did people DO with them? It staggers a withered imagination to contemplate), there was and is this nifty device called a shortwave radio. Often, news from other countries, in English, gave me more insight into our country than ABC, CBS and NBC. Maybe the shortwave stations will be as corrupt as the online and on air so called news broadcasts, who knows? Maybe I want to turn on the radio and have it magically be broadcasting from 1972. Or...I'll just work more in the garden, fish more, cook more, buy the paper for the crosswords and use the internet for research and entertainment (same thing). Which might be the best course...sort of like looking to the sky for the weather...

Oh, and what does this have to do with Culebra? Pretty much everything, as the trickle down effect pools right here...where people come because they want the simplicity of a way of life fast vanishing and the tug of war to keep it versus those who would, in bulldozerish swaths, take it away to line their own futures - boils down to those who were too busy reading business plans and forgot to read history, as the entoinfotainment called news supports your position - without telling you what you don't want to hear. And that goes for both sides. But that's another song, for another day.


  1. I'm not sure what your point was. Did you mean mainstream media
    has lost their news standard. I don't think they ever really had any, did
    they? I think things are better because people are getting more info
    than they ever have. You just have to know where to look, and it isn't
    the Huffington Post. S.J.

  2. Your response just shores up my point, which is that *news* comes out so one sided now that there cannot just be one source or another to find out what is going on because there are so many slants.

    And yes. The once DID just tell the news. The who, what, where, when & why of basic JOURNALISM. It now seems long ago and far away but I remember it clearly.

    This whole 'mainstream media' theory is crap, a catchall phrase designed to prejudice minds from further exploration. That sort of tool was usually (and is) reserved for religions - to keep their individual flocks in control by keeping them ignorant of other points of view. The secular control freaks caught on, I mean, hey, it's worked for a few thousands of years, cop it for power in all the temples of the world! And it's working, as your last sentence so aptly shows.

  3. Excellent blog MJ and excellent response to the response. I often joke that folks ought to be required to listen to NPR and Rush Limbaugh ... though it might be considered cruel and unusual punishment. Your reference to Huffington Post and Fox News is a tad more relevant. Will be on island in October, sure to look you up and buy you a ... (fill in the blank folks)

  4. Thanks, Frank...yes, it would be cruel but it would help, horribly enough. Looking forward to seeing you back, as ever!