The 24-Hour News Cycle Has Finally Killed News

As the world progresses technologically, we’re seeing the pace of life and especially information created accelerating.  You would think a constant news cycle would be a positive.  ‘Cause, you know, there’s always news happening somewhere.  Right?

Apparently not.  While protest rip across at least half a dozen Muslim countries, the biggest news THIS ENTIRE WEEK has been Serene Branson.  Poor Serene, her life has been anything but since her now infamous Southern Baptist style speaking-in-tongues episode from the Grammy telecast on Sunday.  And no, I’m not linking you to ANY edit of it.  Although they’re hilarious.  That’s not the point.

Sunday.  Today is Saturday, and I’m now compelled to take the matter to task.  Why?  Friday, The Early Show on CBS ‘scored’ an interview with the distressed reporter, a whole five days after the fact.  I’m looking squarely in the face of the premise of the ’24-hour news cycle’ as culprit for this travesty of public justice.

Why in the good name of Ozzie Canseco does this story stick around?  Easy.  It’s funny.  People naturally enjoy laughing at the mishaps and misfortunes, on a mild scale, of others.

The sports equivalent of the Serene Branson story

Of course, being thin on substance but full of anecdotes, this reminds me of a time in college.  Three buddies of mine from home came to visit the weekend in Boston.  Saturday afternoon, after lunch but before Round 2 of drinking, we were killing time.  My boy JP, the comic genius he is, had some Krazy Glue in his utility belt.

A few quarters glued on the walkway in front of my dorm later, we were in comic heaven.  No shit, a girl with headphones on stops mid-stride, right in front of the 25 cent piece, and exclaims, “Oooh, change!”

Reading it does the scene no justice.  The four of us lose our shit, and this girl notices us laughing, glares and calls us ‘jerks’ and huffs off.  No harm, no foul play, as they say in baseball and the homicide department.  Like Ms. Branson’s unfortunate episode, “Oooh, change!’ didn’t really hurt anyone.  Embarrassed feelings pass with time.  So does the, to sound as pretentious and wordy as possible, informational bedrock of thought provoking, meaningful dialogue.

At least that’s how the Serene Branson story is playing out.  The mighty Ivory Tower, the Fourth Estate, the gallant gatekeepers of information, are truly fucking the pooch casting this sort of drivel as news.  It’s also proof and evidence of how the 24-hour news cycle has brought about the demise of actual news reporting and journalism.  First it was, “What hapened?’  Then it was, “It wasn’t a stroke?  That.  Is.  HILARIOUS.”  Next was the media reaction.  Blech.  THEN it was, “It’s only migraines!”  Followed by, “Serene is troubled.  Poor, poor girl.”  Those are all essentially recaps of the daily infotainment drip on this story.

Does ANY of that quantify as news worthy?

The 24-hour news cycle is constantly playing catch-up.  They’re naturally in reaction mode.  Here is the tangible difference between perpetual reporting and, to sound as trite as possible, ‘doing journalism’: one is offensive, in the sports sense of the word, while one is defensive and reactive.    If a fictional news agency only follows what happens, how much do they fail to cover?

A lot, really.  Real news, the kind that J-school professors like to spout flowery prose about, takes time.  It’s following leads and hunches, not the hot trends on Twitter and what the competition is covering.  Unfortunately, there’s not much recourse.  After the axiom ‘mustard is a good diet food…..it’s got zero calories!’, the only other thing I really learned about in graduate school was about the AP Daybook.

I can’t link you up, and you aren’t allowed to see it, because it’s really the mechanism by which the Associated Press scores their news.  Cities around the nation have a list of daily events….unveilings, ribbon cuttings, Q&A sessions, celebrity appearances and political theater are all listed, by time, for reporters from said city.

It is literally the only worthwhile feature of the AP.  The one they keep to themselves.  If you’ve got access, it’s fantastic.  but be serious.  Of all seven of you reading this now, do any of you even know anyone who knows someone with the status to be tapped into the Daybook?

Rhetorical questions aside, why hasn’t the Associated Press taken steps to open up the Daybook to ordinary citizens?  In this era of diffused information and numerous platforms for conveying information, isn’t it in everyone’s best interest to at least have the choice to pursue real issues and topics, gate keepers be damned?  Shoddy handling of the airwaves, the punchline being the last week’s obsession with LITERALLY NOTHING!  A pretty woman spazzing out!  Best way I can figure to improve the quality of news is increase the availability of Daybooks across the nation to people who want to be engaged, rather then strictly keeping it to people who are paid to be engaged.  Y’see, I added italics for effect.

Effect.  That’s about all the 24-hour news cycle strives for.  News used to inform, instead of make you feel something.  Weird, huh?  That’s before slow death, via the 24-hour news cycle.  Who knew when I was watching O.J. and A.C. in that White Bronco (inconveniently butting into the Knicks/Rockets NBA Finals telecast) it was the first of a thousand little cuts, bleeding out a vital organ of information.

 

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