Sunday, July 03, 2005

"Contains No News 

That's how TVNewsLies.org categorizes CNN, and their analysis of an evening's "news" content bears them out.

I'll leave you to follow the links to read the full articles, but an interesting statistic of which to take note. According to TVNewsLies, CNN dedicated over nine minutes of broadcasting on their July 3rd broadcast to two missing persons stories. That's 17% of the telecast. But, who does that time really serve, when it comes down to being truly newsworthy?
Missing person cases affect ONLY the missing persons themselves, the abductors and the families and friends. Others may be concerned, but realistically nobody else is really affected by these incidents. So I am going to estimate that 250 people (and that is a generous estimation) in the United States are affected by these two stories. This means it affects 0.0001% of the American population.

Let me repeat that: 17% of CNN’s broadcast was important news to 0.0001% of the US population!!!
Which hits it right on the nose. No matter how tragic the latest Missing White Woman™ story is, it really doesn't make a bit of difference to anybody but those directly related to or involved with the missing person. And yet, far too much of our valuable airtime is taken up with bullshit stories about missing coeds in Aruba or runaway brides or the like. Certainly, if the news wants to run a brief "Have You Seen Me?" blurb on someone missing, fine. Locally. But it shouldn't be the subject of national news, and should not be headlines.

And d'ya ever notice how, um... white and female the missing tend to be? Either that, or white and children. By contrast, the case of three missing boys in New Jersey -- who happened to not be Missing White Women™ -- didn't make the national news until they were found dead in a car trunk.

It's all part of the Booga-Booga news. It isn't about informing you of things that truly should be scary -- lies to start wars, the outing of CIA agents for political revenge, the theft of this country's assets and elections -- it's about the stuff that, statistically, isn't going to affect you. If you believed the nightly news (and too many people do) the world is full of slobbering sexual predators ready to abduct anyone, anywhere, any time.

All of the above is why I think these guys are performing such a valuable service. Called Newsbreakers, their mission is to infiltrate live news broadcasts of meaningless events, and ridicule them via various means, like the infamous Cheese Ninja, or the man in the tiger mask. It's fun to watch how miffed the media gets at their antics. But, honestly, they're proving a point by making most of these live reporters look like the n00bs that they are.

Certainly, live news coverage has its place, but it's overused for the same reason that a dog can lick his balls. I've seen far too many "stand-ups" (as they're called) of some reporter breathless spewing bullshit at a location where something of vague interest happened six hours earlier. And if there's a bigger waste of news time than, "I'm standing here live (at 10 pm) in front of the minimall where police pulled over a drunken mother who had her two children in the back (seven hours earlier)...", then I can't think of what it might be.

Oh. Celebrity news. And sports. But those are other stories.

At least the public seems to be catching on, with network news ratings diving faster than W and ArNOld's poll numbers. If they want us back, they're going to have to cut the fluff and cover real news, in depth.

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