Friday, February 20, 2009

That's entertainment...oh and an ulcer.

Dear Newscasters,

Excuse me for sneering a little when I typed that. Frankly it’s about as funny as calling your shows “new reporting” or “in depth analysis”. Seriously, stop, you’re killing me.

I understand that you are driven by the need to command an audience. I get that headlines like “Largest number of jobs lost in one month since 1974!” have a bigger reaction than tamer and more accurate accounts of the economy. That headline fails to take into account the larger number of working people in the US now than in 1974, but your goal is clearly to inflame, not inform. Take into consideration we are 12 months into this recession and our unemployment rate is still about the same as the it was at the PEAK of the recession in the early 90s. Yes, things can get worse, but if you watched the news, you’d probably think we were monumentally screwed already. Furthermore, the average length of a recession in the US since 1946 is 13 months. We were in a recession for a full year before you got around to reporting on that! It makes me question the assertions that this is just the beginning and that this current situation will last as long as 2011!  And you never back it up. Where are you getting this information? How are you coming to these conclusions? I’m not arguing that the economy is all peachy keen, but I do want some perspective on just how bad it is when you hype it as the worst recession in the history of mankind.

And seriously are we completely forgetting journalistic ethics? When you do nothing but scream about how bad this is, focus on the worst stories of the impact of the recession on individuals and your pseudo-experts warn us that we have only seen the beginning, I am left wondering where the hell you all were last year? I mean, I know where you were when McCain had to rush back to the Senate to rescue America from the next Great Depression, but how is it that this GIANT economic crisis slipped past you with so little coverage until it became the topic of all news all the time. You’re being as responsible as Walmart, whipping people into a panic, then reporting on the tragic aftermath with complete disregard for your own culpability.

Do you think that your coverage, your constant fear mongering and excessive reporting might actually be part of the problem? That the ever-updated news that the outlook is even bleaker than you reported just 5 minutes ago might be one of the reasons the Americans you are polling are showing such a giant and rapid decline in confidence? Just saying. I know for me it has made me quit watching the news entirely. I am now solely dependant on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show for my analysis. How wrong it that? The sad thing is his humorous program, sold only as entertainment probably provides better insight into the real issues than your 24/7 “news” coverage.  And he's not billing it as news like you chimps in suits do!

Let’s not forget your coverage of Obama’s stimulus package. Wow. How quickly we turn. Right up until Jan 21st it seemed that Obama was your golden boy, then, as quickly as you can say “I solemnly swear” you turned on our new president. Suddenly he wasn’t doing enough, the economy was in the toilet. How many times can you report “Is the honeymoon over?” within his first month in office? Suddenly he’s not properly wrangling the Republicans, his calm is being cracked, and his handling of the stimulus package is bungled. Why not place the blame where it really stands, with the Republicans’ obstructionist tactics, with their inane fear that a success with the economy might actually lead to more confidence in the Democrats (go figure, after 8 years of being repeated brutalized by the Republicans, voters might be looking for an alternate solution). This despite a recent poll that 67% approve of his handling, it’s the congress they’re pissed off at. But we’ve never really liked them, so it is a far shorter fall if we knock them off their pedestals than if we take down the golden boy, right?

In short, how about you shut up for a bit. At least until you line up some facts to back up your shit stirring. And maybe, just maybe you consider acting like true information sources. Your current antics seem more closely tied to the sensationalism of a Hollywood action film focused on getting my heart pumping and adrenaline up than your journalistic predecessors. Maybe we need to move back to the old days of TV news. 15 minutes a day of commercial free reporting done by credible news people, what a novel idea.



To be absolutely clear, I in no way doubt we are in a severe recession, and the collapse of the banking industry, the volatility in the stock market, climbing unemployment and implosion of the housing markets are very real, very serious problems.  People are being crushed by the weight of these problems and I know that isn't just because the news says they are. I wish it wasn't so, but it is.  I am just sick of the constant inflammatory "news" reporting that offers no real insight, just more agitation of an already incredibly stressful time for our country.  I just wish there was a bit of responsibility taken when reporting on these issues, because honestly, I am stressed to the point of exhaustion and I need some context.  I don't know how much the media has exacerbated the current situation, but I do think there is a need for a measure of restraint instead of the sensationalism they seem to be resorting to.


geekymummy said...

Drives me crazy. "there are more people out of work now than there were in 1974". And there are also more people IN work now than in 1974, because guess what genius, there are more people now!

Heather said...

"Do you think that your coverage, your constant fear mongering and excessive coverage might actually be part of the problem? That the constant news that the outlook is even bleaker than you reported just 5 minutes ago might be one of the reasons the Americans you are polling are showing such a giant and rapid decline in confidence?"

Long quote to quote, sorry, but I just have to say YES to this. This is why I never got cable up and running when I moved. I don't need to hear it.

chihuahua5 said...

amen summed it up quite nicely

Beth said...

I'm glad to know I'm not the only one banning the news. If I could ever get control of the remote, I'd watch Jon Stewart's show. While he is funny, he is brilliant, too!

Great post! I'm sick to death of the gloom and doom on the light box.

AnnetteK said...

You said it exactly right. I've given up on watching the news for this very reason.

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