Thursday, October 10, 2013

Don't read all about it

There was a time when every family on every street subscribed to at least one newspaper, and often they took more than one. And the people would watch Huntley and Brinkley or Walter Cronkite do the nightly news on the network of their choice.

One of my favorite childhood memories was running into the living room at 7 PM to watch Douglas Edwards, the immediate predecessor to Cronkite, do the CBS evening news.  During the commercials, I would read the Baltimore Evening Sun, having finished the Morning Sun over breakfast.

So, naturally, as I "grew up" and met other adults in conversation around water coolers and balky office printers, I would often try to get a convo started by mentioning some news item that had caught my attention.  Imagine my shock when a woman I worked with - a college graduate - had no idea what was going on as Operation Desert Storm got underway a couple of decades ago.

"Oh, we don't watch the news or read a paper," she said. "I really don't want to know what's going on in the world - it's just too crazy."

 At first, I figured her for the only person I knew who deliberately shut herself off from the events of the world, which continued to unfold around her despite her benightedness.  But I was wrong, and now this story tells me that more and more, people care less and less to know what's happening in Hong Kong, Baluchistan or Nome. 

According to the Pew Research Organization, “News organizations have been confronting the problem of a shrinking audience for more than a decade, but trends strongly suggest that these difficulties may only worsen over time.”  And the story goes on to say that today's young hipsters watch/read less news than their parents, who in their day were reading/watching less than their parents.

A news story about people spending less of their time becoming acquainted with news stories.  It's sad that people willingly choose not to know what's going on, but that makes it easier to fool them when the "newscasters" can't tell a fake story from a real one. I can only assume that this fool Anna Kooiman was raised in one of those nescient homes.

It makes me think of the chefs on the Titanic.  Did they pass out a dinner menu as the great boat continued filling with seawater?  

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