8/30/2005

More Harm than Good?

24 hour news channels are a blessing to insomniacs (not really me) and news junkies (definitely me). But watching the coverage of Katrina, coupled with all the "missing persons" stories has made me wonder about their impact on society.

The pressure of being on the air all the time and having to have something to say leads to the coverage of "news" stories that are blown out all of reason and proportion. Look, these missing persons stories are tragedies. I have a daughter who just started college, so I identify with Natalee Holloway's parents. But her tragic story is not national news. Neither is the missing groom on the cruise ship, the missing blonde, the missing brunette, or even the token missing African-American girl. (More on racism in the media another time.) The stories are gripping, heart-tugging, and get ratings, which is what it's really all about. But they're not news.

Watching the empty suits blathering about Katrina with such confidence and authority, only to see the light of day give lie to almost everything they told us made me wonder if filling the full day with "news" is leading to a devaluing of truth. They're talking because they're supposed to talk, and when they don't know, they talk anyway. Once this tragedy is over, the cable news people need to take a long look at how they do business.

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