In 1980 Ted Turner launched the first 24/7 cable news channel, CNN. At the time, my 24 hour day consisted of working 8 hours at an answering service switchboard, getting to and from work, trying to get enough sleep, taking care of my home, seeing to it we had food in the house and nurturing the relationships I held with friends and family. Much has changed since then. My children are on their own, the parents and grandmother I was making time for are no longer alive. With fewer of us living in the home, there’s less work involved in keeping it up. I take the time to nurture my relationships with friends and a family which is smaller, but now includes beloved grandchildren.
For close to half my life there was no source for news beyond what is now called mainstream media. In my house, we preferred to get our news from Walter Cronkite. Some family and friends garnered their information from The Huntley, Brinkley Report. There were newspapers and radio sources that we could read or tune into during the day. Of course, in depth reporting wasn’t what it is today. We weren’t treated to all the girlfriends President Kennedy may or may not have. We, as a matter of course, were informed of only those events, and decisions which impacted our daily lives. In other words, it wasn’t gossip we were being informed about, it was news.
Breaking news was just that. It was accomplished by interrupting our regularly scheduled programming. Depending on the nature of the news, it was either a brief synopsis of what was occuring and further information as to when we could expect full coverage. The only time I remember a total pre-emption of regular programming was in November of 1963 when President Kennedy was shot, or when stations covered either the Democratic or Republican Conventions.
Back then news had impact. There was a knowledge of what was important to our economy and our daily lives and what wasn’t. Excuse me, but cigars and semen stained blue dresses have no bearing on the cost of raising a family. They don’t have an impact on job creation or budget balancing. Yes, they did point towards a president who had issues with his moral values. Yes, he did commit perjury and should have been investigated and punished. Was he? No, not really because we all got sidetracked by the blue dress and a cigar. Do you realize how much money was spent in an effort to impeach him?
There is so little actual news that happens in the course of a day that we now are treated to the sex lives of politicians and actors in order to have something to fill those 24/7 newscasts. We are inundated with unnecessary information and are losing sight of what’s really important. With 24/7 entertainment newscasts and the internet with it’s lightening fast method of disseminating false information, we no longer have the ability to prioritize. We no longer engage in critical thinking. News is no longer news. It’s largely gossip that we seem not to be able to get enough of.