Sunday, 4 November 2012

The Lack of News

Up through the early 1800s....if you were lucky....you were likely to get a 'fresh' newspaper about once a week.  If you lived in the Boston or Philly region....it consisted of a couple of pages.  Generally, the news consisted of relatives coming to visit so-and-so, a boat arriving at the dock, and rumors of a early snowfall in November.  If you hung around the local saloon or roadhouse....some guy might stop in and admit he had been traveling for two weeks and passed through two states.  These were your only news avenues, and you were mostly satisfied with that.

By the late 1800s....if you lived in any significant town of Ohio or in San Francisco ...there were almost daily newspapers, which got large tracts of updates via the local telegraph.  Speeches of your local senator were likely laid out in complete wording.  And if you hung around the local saloon or pub....some guy would show up and admit he's been on the road and tells you an hour or two of gossip of things he's heard.

In the late 1920s....newspapers have all gone to seven days a week.  Sports sections now show up in the paper and tell you about the greatest Yankees team that ever played.  Radio is blasting away and news is coming to you from 100 miles away.  Some magazines are now printed weekly with long detailed analysis about two dozen stories happening around the nation....which you read during your six-minute sessions in the bathroom.  From down at the local pub or bar....some guy admits that he's been driving for two days and passed through two states.  He's got lots of valuable stories and gossip.

In the 1960s....three networks have appeared and dump nightly news into your living room, with video.  They take you to the ends of the Earth, and explain difficult scientific situations with ease.  Experts now appear nightly and detail vast opinions.  Newspapers are doing investigative analysis and detailing scandal and political stumbles.  From down at the local bar....some guy admits that he was in Vegas last week, and saw the cops personally arrest six people for jay-walking.

In 2004....the three networks now have to share news with cable TV news networks (at least four), and those Public Broadcasting folks have suddenly gotten interest in news....lessening their dramatic poetry readings, opera music, and scene-by-scene analysis of Hamlet.  Folks have re-discovered AM radio, which is now populated by this guy named Rush who seems to know a bit about political news, and this Paul Harvey guy who seems to be able to tell an hour or two of news in 8 minutes.  There's some show on CBS called Sixty Minutes which amazes you in the depth of research and story-telling they can do....in a mere hour.  From down at the local bar....you bump into some guy who was in Mexico two weeks ago, and he's got some 'weed' stuff that he'd like to sell you.

In 2012.....there are around sixteen channels now which broadcasts sports news, political news, economic news, and international news around the nation....twenty-four hours a day....seven days a week.  NewsWeak and Time magazines are dying off because no one really cares to read their analysis anymore.  Newspapers?  Some papers are talking about going back to five-to-six publications a week, and dumping half the content to survive.  Some folks are terribly upset about AM radio talk shows, which now seem to be discussing eight minutes of news over three hours.  Internet now delivers news which apparently the sixteen channels won't touch or aren't capable of touching. Some British newspaper is actually telling stuff about your government....that you won't hear in the local TV news.  From down at the local bar....you bump into some guy who watches the History Channel and blabbers continually about aliens, gold prospecting in Alaska, UFOs, the JFK conspiracy, Bigfoot, and cattle mutilations 

The truth is....we probably haven't advanced much since the early 1800s, but it's best not to admit that to any news guy.

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