It had to happen. With 500 channels and nothing on, real news became a casualty and was replaced by entertainment and events.
With hundreds of television channels available on cable, and dozens of news only channels, one would expect a measure of dilution. One would not be disappointed.
News is often defined as noteworthy information about recent or important events. It’s also defined as information not previously known, and finally, the real kicker, a person or thing considered interesting enough to be reported in the news.
Therein lies the problem. Who determines who or what is important enough to be reported in the news without doing much that is newsworthy in the traditional sense? Put another way, who monitors the monitors?
It’s easy to see why government activities dominate the news. It’s easy for newspapers, television, and radio crews to gather the news from a single source. It saves time, and who would argue that government activities do not affect most of us, directly or indirectly?
Real news, the kind that fits a definition is more difficult to report, because it takes time and effort to reach the event, gather the facts, and then report. Government figures are always available to fill a void.
Entertainment as news is not a new phenomenon, but it takes a place at the forefront of media more so than at any time in history.
What is newsworthy about Paris Hilton? Few people have seen her, and fewer know her. But the masses know of her sex life, drinking habits, taste in clothing and men, and how much she and her family are worth, and where she likes to party.
Do the masses know as much about personal rights that have been curtailed by an overzealous government bent on protecting everything about the country except the rights that made the country in the first place?
A dog that bites a man is not news. A man that bites a dog is news. I’m not sure why that’s the case, but it is, and after many years in the news business as a reporter and writer, I agree.
The norm is not news.
Or, is it?
What is abnormal is news, right? If so, then why is it that when congressmen befriend prostitutes it is considered news? Isn’t that the norm? Why is it news when a government official is caught taking a bribe? Isn’t that the norm?