Thursday, July 26, 2012

Oh, media, how could you?

Dear Media,

I turned on my TV this morning, as I do every day while I drink my first cup of tea. I like these times when we're together, slowly warming up to the day. Of course, you get up first, by the time my kettle boils you've been up for a while, gathering news, readying it for me, sorting and condensing so I can go into the world knowing a little, just a little, of what's going on. I appreciate that, and I always have.

But lately things have been getting weird. I don't know, it's almost like you're not really trying any more. As if our morning routine has become a burden and other things (dare I say other people?) have caught your eye and drawn you away from me.

Why do I bring this up now? Because I'm not a nag and haven't wanted to pester you with my own insecurities over recent months. Maybe I should have because this morning you went too far.

It started out okay, when you covered the Olympics in London, which I think of as necessary fluff (after all, the events themselves haven't started, what else can you do?). After that segment, though, you cut to the news.

Let me repeat that: The News. Definition: "a person, thing, or event considered as a choice subject for journalistic treatment; newsworthy material."

As you cut back to the news studio, I steeled myself, ready for distressing reports from Syria and Afghanistan, maybe an update on the Colorado shooter. Perhaps even some economic news, I knew some housing reports were due.

You know, News.

You ignored me, though, you paid my needs no attention and I might almost think you did it on purpose because you know I am not interested in this stuff, and more importantly you know that we both know, this isn't News.

You told me that a 22-year-old girl cheated on her boyfriend.

That was your lead story for the News. And you lingered on it, too, showing me photos and film clips as though you had a war reporter on scene sending back vital footage of an actual event. I couldn't believe my eyes. Why would you do this to me, why would you betray me in my own living room, my tea barely cool enough to sip? This was our special time, our time to commune and you knowingly, intentionally, on purposely, violated what I thought was a beautiful relationship.

I'm not naive, I know that people, many people, are interested in this particular 22-year-old girl. But did you think the Internet didn't have it covered in the gossip blogs? Did you not think your own network would cover it on some entertainment show?

Even now, do you really think it is News?

Let me try and remain rational, logical, composed. Because I want us to get over this, get past it. But I don't want you doing it again, I don't want to turn my TV on in the future and find that, behind my back, you've constructed a story about a drunken movie star tossing dwarfs in a rundown London pub. Or even tossing off dwarfs. Those things aren't News.

You see, no one is affected when a 22-year-old cheats on her boyfriend (or tosses off a dwarf), except the boyfriend and the family of the dude she cheated with. Which adds up to about five people. In the world. So how is it news?

Here's the distinction as I see it:
  • if something happens and lots of people are affected, or some are affected in dramatic or unusual ways, then it is News.
  • if something ordinary happens and hundreds/thousands/millions of people express an interest because the person is famous, it's Entertainment.
Am I making sense? You know I'm an open-minded guy, I am willing to experiment with you, let you experiment with me. But a 22-year-old being attracted to a 41-year-old man isn't unusual. At all. In any way.

I can assume by your coverage of this "story" that loyalty is important to you, as you know it is to me. Life partners have bumps over the years and I'm willing to work with you to get past this.

But please, don't do this again. Especially when I'm trying to drink tea, it just isn't civilized. And it certainly isn't News.


  1. HAVE started! I watched parts of several football/soccer matches already!

    I used to feel glad that the news was coming on. I felt that I would somehow become more in-touch with my community by the "conversation" we had. I now keep the remote handy to hit the Mute button during the "real" news like this. I think I can have more worthwhile conversations in my head...

  2. Agree. I had to see tweets and FB posts about that "cheating scandal" all day yesterday. Didn't need to see it on the news too, because you're right, it's not News.

    Keep telling it like it is, Mark! :)

  3. I can't think of any news broadcast here that would open with such news, unless the affair started a war or something (which is unlikely in this day and age, but could've happened some centuries earlier).

  4. So gossip isn't seen s "news" Antti? How refreshing.


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