Remember when you’d be watching the news on the teevee, and Dan Rather (or your anchor of choice) would say something like:
“Breaking news. A major bridge has collapsed in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The cause is unknown, but speculations are that recent construction could have contributed to the accident. There appear to have been more than 100 cars involved, and so far, we have heard of many injuries, but no deaths. Cell phones are inoperative at this point. More later.”
And then he’d say those lovely words:
“And now, back to our regularly scheduled program.”
There was a sense of proportion in those days; a sense that if you don’t have any information, it is unseemly, nay, ridiculous to keep filling the time by the following exercises:
- repeating the same information over and over;
- showing the same pictures over and over; and
- calling on “experts” who are not involved with the situation to uselessly speculate about what could be happening.
Nowadays? Well, I tuned in to my beloved Keith Olbermann’s “Countdown” last night, and what did I see? One hour of uninformative “coverage” of the aforementioned event. There was nary a whisper of Rumsfeld’s testi-lying at the Pat Tillman hearings, the crumbling of the Al-Maliki government in Iraq, the latest escalation in the Pentagon Lackey vs. Hillary feud (now Cheney has snarled that he agrees with the Lackey, who, surprise surprise! is a Cheney operative), or even, Jeebus forbid, Obama’s major anti-terrorism speech.
In one of the Douglas Adams “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” books, it is postulated (with tongue in cheek, of course) that the answer to universal peace is these words:
“We apologize for the inconvenience.”
I don’t know about universal peace, but I think the words “And now, back to our regularly scheduled program” would go a long way towards healing our broken news culture.