Maybe it’s because she’s getting older or maybe not, but Crabby Old Lady is getting a much larger percentage of her daily news these days from the Web rather than from radio and television. It’s not that it’s easier or better necessarily, but at least it doesn’t hurt.
In traditional broadcast media, the speed of delivery has come, lately, to rival that of old-time auctioneers like this one - the voice of Tom Cassidy, stolen from Sunspot Productions:
Okay, Crabby admits that's exaggerated a bit, but the rat-a-tat-tat delivery of news is a fact, and coupled with the intent of program hosts and anchors to convince Crabby that the hacking of Paris Hilton’s telephone book is a security breach meriting the shutdown of airports and borders, trying to find out what’s happened in the world is akin to physical assault.
News today sounds like semi-automatic handgun fire. Stories have been shortened to the length of bullet points and verbs have been caught in the cross-fire: “Queens building collapse; two dead. Japan in space. Key insurgent arrest. Capture in Kansas. Suicide bomb in Tel Aviv. Stay tuned.” After a barrage of 20 rapid-fire commercials followed by a fusillade of lottery numbers – 14, 27, 44, 45, 51, 62 – Crabby needs emergency medical care.
If Crabby were not so agitated and simultaneously exhausted from this verbal onslaught, she would feel as she does when the color-coded terror alert is raised: Yeah? And what should she do about it? The media culture of fear has us in its clutches and according to all-so-called-news-all-the-time, the grim reaper is gaining on us.
There was a time when news editors and anchors believed it was their job to actually edit the news into a hierarchy of importance. While the rest of us were manufacturing widgets and generally keeping the business of America afloat, they could be trusted to wade through the multitude of daily events and sort the dreck from the need-to-know. And – heaven forfend, these days - they even put it in context for us. Huntley-Brinkley come to mind along with Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite and Linda Ellerbee. (You young ‘uns among us will have to look them up for yourselves.)
This post came to mind when Crabby had breakfast on Saturday with her friend, Caroline – much younger, at age 40, than Crabby – who declared that television news, with its hammering speed and volume, made her feel bad all the time, and she’s given it up. She is undoubtedly not alone and Crabby, a news junkie by anyone’s definition, hadn’t realized until Caroline brought it up how frequently she turns off the radio as soon as she has determined if she needs an umbrella.
Perhaps that is what the powers that be are counting on. Crabby Old Lady has little truck with conspiracy theorists, but adding journalists who are paid to shill for the government’s point of view and fake reporters in the White House to the maximum-speed noise and debasement of news to entertainment – well, even Crabby wonders: is all this together a plot to keep everyone so disoriented and distracted from what's really going on that our freedoms will be ripped out from under us before we notice?
Crabby’s going to go take an aspirin now and check with the thought police on that question (online) in the morning.