You rip on journalism a lot and it gets redundant. You are not correct about journalists, we do not only report horrible news.
I have been a broadcast journalist for 32 years with the [Blankity Blank] organization in Los Angeles, California, and I try to bring the best and most important stories to viewers. And while I can’t speak for my colleagues, maybe it’s time to quit bashing journalism. If for no other reason than because it makes you sound unintelligent, sir.
I think the problem here is that I actually am a little slow. Seriously. When I was a kid, my mother said I was the only kid she had ever known who had been locked out of a convertible with the top down.
So I admit. I’m not the sharpest fork in the drawer.
That said. If what you say is true; if you as a journalist were actually bringing the “best and most important stories” to your viewers, you, sir, would be living in a refrigerator carton.
I know this because I have a friend whose son graduated with a degree in broadcast journalism. He got a high-paying job with a major news network right out of the gate. They put him on assignment. He tried to find the “best and most important” stories out there and was promptly terminated after—get this—only two weeks.
I have another friend who worked in broadcast journalism for a large news conglomerate. He tried to publish feel-good stories, too. He once published a heartwarming story about primates learning sign language to help cancer patients. He drives a truck now.
Everyone knows not to watch cable news if you have a sensitive gag reflex. One study found that watching the news raises blood pressure, increases risk of heart attack, stroke, and causes spontaneous interest in reverse mortgages.
This isn’t a new problem. As long as there have been humans, there have been cravings for truly awful stories that make us cringe. “Dancing With the Stars” is only one example.
Long ago, before digital news sites, newspapers and TV, our ancestors loved bad news. They spread bad news by writing folk songs, which were the news bulletins of their era.
Have you ever noticed how our ancestors weren’t writing melodies about happy-go-lucky things? Take “Rock A Bye Baby.” This song was about the British Revolution of 1688:
“When the bow breaks,
“The cradle will fall,
“And down will come baby,
“Cradle and all?”
Cradle and all? We sing this to our babies? It sounds like a bad insurance jingle.
How about “Frankie and Johnny”? Ever heard that one? The song was written in 1899 about two lovers who gunned each other down. It is considered by many to be the most popular folk song of all time. There have been 256 recordings of “Frankie and Johnny” since 1912 including renditions by Elvis, Johnny Cash, Stevie Wonder, and—why not?—Lindsey Lohan.
I happen to have the lyrics right here:
“Frankie drew back her kimono,
“She took out a little .44,
“Rooty toot toot, three times she shot,
“Right through that hardwood door,
“Shot her man, he was doing her wrong…”
So the news is supposed to make you nauseous. That’s its purpose. I get it. I understand why journalists select the most frightening news stories. I understand why newscasters chew the same cud for hours on network television. Adrenaline, baby.
That’s why the news business has all those catchy little slogans you learn in journalism school: “If it bleeds it leads.” “Show’em hell and it’ll sell.” “No news is good news.”
But what I don’t understand is this: Why do the most ridiculous, non-important, asinine news stories get the most airtime? Maybe you can explain this to me.
Tell me why, for example, does a story about Britney Spears posing nude on Instagram after her recent miscarriage land on every single digital news front page, whereas the story of 9-year-old Ben Miller’s lemonade stand in Boise, Idaho, which raised thousands of dollars for a pet shelter, received no airplay whatsoever?
And why are journalists obsessed with a mud-wrestling feud between SEC coaches Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher, but nobody ever told me about 10-year-old Kiera Larsen, of Lakeside, California, who sacrificed her life to save two young girls by pushing them out of the way of a speeding SUV?
How did so few people talk about Rachel Balkovec becoming the first female minor league baseball manager, whereas the story of Will Smith slapping Chris Rock received the same headline importance as, say, a papal installation?
Maybe you could explain this to me. Then again, I’m worried I’m so unintelligent that your answer might actually make sense.