Friday, April 27, 2007

I’m So Tired …

Watching TV news the other day, with the incessant repetition of the same stuff hour after hour, got me thinking how tired I am of the same old stuff, and that flashed me to the scene in Blazing Saddles where Madeline Kahn, as Lili von Schtupp, sings a fairly hilarious song titled “I’m So Tired,” some of the lyrics of which are:

I'm tired,
Tired of playing the game
Ain't it a crying shame
I'm so tired

Anyway, one of the worst developments in news coverage is the 24-hour news cycle, made possible by 24-hour-a-day news channels like FNC, CNN, MSNBC, and CNBC. While these networks make it possible to find out what’s going on at any hour of the day—or perhaps more correctly, to find out what the networks want to tell you—there just isn’t enough important news happening most days to fill a complete day without focusing on a few stories and reporting them to death, or worse, use stories that really aren’t good stories, and worse still when networks create stories on their own or blow minor elements of a story up well beyond their actual importance.

Haven’t we heard about the tragic story of Anna Nicole Smith enough? Haven’t the media covered every possible aspect of that story, and didn’t they do it to death? Isn’t the same true of the Don Imus fiasco and the Virginia Tech tragedy? I’m tired of hearing, reading and seeing stuff about Brittany Spears Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan, and now about Alec Baldwin. I’m glad Sanjaya finally got tossed off of American Idol, not because I don’t like Sanjaya, but because the story wasn’t worth all the attention it got.

Then, on the other hand, there’s the case of the Duke lacrosse players’ persecution. We had endless hours of that story for months; they covered it to death. But now that the North Carolina Attorney General has dropped all charges against the players, that story died in a few days.

Having worked in news journalism for nearly 20 years I have a good deal of insight into the way those people think. There is the drive to give people information, of course, although it is all too often tempered with the impact of some agenda, but frequently a major factor is the affect on viewers/listeners/readers. The news network people have an almost manic need to be first, and these days being first is most often a matter of seconds, and that produces some really weird on-air behavior, interrupting meaningful interviews with knowledgeable people, or cutting someone off in mid-sentence. It’s funny how when they are trying to be first, the news folk don’t mind putting scheduled commercial (hard) breaks on hold, but otherwise they do all manner of silly things to end segments on time for those scheduled breaks (see above).

Okay, I’m through ranting now.

And, if you’d like to watch and listen to Lili sing “I’m So Tired,” and I urge you to do so, here you go:

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