Piracy has been going on in Somalia for a long time, since at least the civil war, but it didn’t make national news until a few years ago. What caused it to make news?
A story used to get on TV if it affected a lot of people, but that doesn’t happen anymore. Sure, we’ve had a few stories like that recently: Hurricane Katrina, 9/11, the 2005 tsunami and the Japanese earthquakes, but most of what comes out of the TV is trash, it’s human interest, it’s entertainment.
We live in a world of 24 hour news networks. This means everybody always needs to be reporting. Its also created a group of pundits who talk about opinions and stories instead of the news. These shows require an immense amount of capital to stay afloat which means getting people to watch.
If you want to see how this works, check out the HBO show Newsroom. In the show, a group of upstanding and serious newspeople are forced to cover Casey Anthony, a random murder story not affecting anyone else. It happened because viewers wanted the story and the network had to give them what they wanted while real stories never got told.
People talk about human interest stories, we can’t help it. When a bunch of Americans get together in a room and need something to talk about, they’ll start with weather and mess around for a while but eventually they’ll start talking about pop culture and the news is where we get it.
Sure, people need to be connected and relate to one another, but it’s a little sad that we find our common ground with TV and news. Oh, and video games, people love talking about video games. And sports.
There is a famous saying: intelligent people talk about ideas, average people talk about things, and slow people talk about other people. My question is, why be average?
Why not use these news stories or video games as catalysts to have intellectual conversations? Talk about the moral downfall of the staff in the Newsroom or the character development in Dark Knight and how it relates to the war in Iraq. Hell, you could even talk about the show iCarly. What does it say about kids and internet dependence? Or how about why the History Channel is ditching documentaries and putting on cheap reality TV? Feel free to watch crap, just please don’t turn off your brain when you do it.
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