News

— Aaron

News is, by definition, made up of the things that are newsworthy. I take (and I think most people take) newsworthy to mean a couple of things:

  1. The things that don’t normally happen: the oddities, the rarities, the exceptions to the rule
  2. The things that do normally happen that people will pay (either through subscriptions, or through viewing advertisements) to read, hear and/or view.

The first definition is a good thing, but the problem with it is when people forget that these are the exceptions. People start to think that the murders, earthquakes, scandals, and car crashes reported on are happening all the time, every day, and most are going un-reported on in the news. But they aren’t. Almost every single one of the rarities gets reported on. None of the everyday things get reported on that contrast this.

For instance, when one plane crashes, that’s news. When tens of thousands of planes make it to their destinations without much incident, every single day of the year, that’s not news, it’s just everyday-life. But when people hear of two plane crashes in the same month, they start to think that air travel is not safe, despite the fact that tens of thousands of planes are still making it to their destinations, without incident, every single day of the year. To put it in perspective, most adults take thousands of successful steps each day. Now, if two of those steps in the same week didn’t go well, (like maybe they stepped on some ice and slipped, or stepped in some doggie doo and fouled up their shoes), they don’t start to think that walking, even from their bedroom to their bathroom, is just too dangerous to do.

The second definition really makes up the bulk of our newspapers and newscasts. It includes: sports, stocks, weather, advice columns, humor columns, comics, want-ads, obituaries, announcements, product reviews, entertainment reviews, and opinions. This is pretty much innocuous stuff.

A problem with news today though, is that the definitions start to get jumbled. It starts to look less like the first two definitions I gave, and more like this:

  1. The things that don’t normally happen: the oddities, the rarities, the exceptions to the rule, that people will pay (either through subscriptions, or through viewing advertisements) to read, hear and/or view.

Now there is a certain amount of sleaziness people’s liking of this. Reports start to only be about those raciest scandals, those biggest car crashes, those most deadly battles in the war. And this type of news edges out the more legitimate “exceptions to the rule” and “everyday information people are willing to pay for”.

But the worst part of it is this: it’s all about your motive in reading/watching/listening to the news that makes it sleazy or not. Do you consume this news in order to be thrilled/shocked/disturbed/outraged by it? Or do you take in the news so that you know what you can do to help, how you can pray, how you can engage people? Is news for your entertainment or for your information?

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4 thoughts on “News

  1. Good point Aaron. I’m a person that watches the news for information and I can tell you, when I don’t find it informative, I change the channel.

  2. I find myself watching the news for entertainment…that’s why I don’t want the news or read the paper. I figure if something is worth my knowing…then someone will bring it to my attention. I find that when I watch the news, it brings more fear into my life than it’s worth. I hate that Americans are driven by fear…we fear our government (where in other countries, the government fears the people)…we fear our neighbors (that’s why a lot of people sleep with a gun beside their bed)…we fear that someone will steal our children, or that “they” will break into our house and take our stuff, or that our car will blow up if we get a gas leak (I blame this one on Hollywood).

    Entertainment it great…I get a good kick out of watching movies, TV or reading magazines. But how much of this has shaped our culture and the way American’s think?

    I guess that is why Jesus, in His infinite wisdom, told us to dwell on the “Fruits of the Spirit”…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…which really can be applied to any one, in any era.

    We are naive to think that we are in the “worst times” right now in history. I wonder how the news spread when Jesus was crucified… and I wonder if everyone that heard this news started to fear that they were the next ones to be crucified?

    Wow…this was a long response…I didn’t know I was so “passionate” about this topic, Sweetheart.

    I love you…

  3. No special reason. New Community was offering it and it sounded fun so I signed up. And also, maybe someone pointed out to me that I often spout dreams of grandeur concerning international relations that I don’t often follow through on and I felt compelled to change that. So the best way to make change happen is to act. So I did. And there you have it.

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