I have news for you.

October 6, 2013 § 6 Comments

Walter Cronkite.Remember when we got the news twice a day?

In the morning it arrived with the thump of a paper hitting the stoop. We read it as we drank our coffee.

In my home, the thump was loud.

Our paper was the New York Times, the paper of record, all the news that was fit to print.  Our only-modestly religious family invested much of our faith in The Times. Its stories were better vetted than the Bible.

At the beginning of each day, The Times let us know how the world outside our door was doing, it kept us up with the rest of our human family.

Other, what we considered lesser papers, did the same because, across the board, the standard of reporting was to investigate thoroughly and report truthfully without bias.

The papers that failed that standard were easy to pick out. You found them in the grocery store checkout line. They fooled few of us. Most of us knew Elvis had not really been abducted by aliens from a Dairy Queen in Duluth.

In the evening we all watched Walter or Chet and David. All of America heard the same news. That didn’t mean we drew the same conclusions, but we began with the same raw materials.

The differences between then and now are striking.

Information that claims to be news comes at us all the time. The teacup capacity of the human brain is being continuously blasted with that fire hose.

There is also a reluctance to check that “news” for truthfulness or relative importance before putting it out. Creation “science” deserves equal time with Darwin. Polar bears are swimming in search of icebergs and we give equal time to climate change doubters—this is what is meant by fair and balanced.

Deep, investigative reporting is slow and costly. The sensational is easy. Imagine putting the biggest gossip in your seventh grade class in charge of the news and you’ll be on the right track.

“News” has become a Ben and Jerry’s cornucopia of different flavors.

Liberal, conservative, intellectual, wearer of a tin-foil hat?

There is a news source that will applaud your point of view and give you added reasons why your take on things is superior to theirs—and this may be our biggest loss. We are now clannishly loyal to the Us of our beliefs and completely intolerant of the Them that believes otherwise.

So here we are, a country that cannot compromise. Forging compromise is an activity that can only be conducted with a cool head. Ideology is fueled by emotion. Swelled with our own righteousness we spurn compromise.

Sometime between the reverence my family felt for the printed and spoken editions of the news and the paintball attack of our current unending news cycle we have ceased to be a people and have become children too young to cooperate.

We parallel play, and do even that badly.

Note: Although beleaguered, that old bastion,  the US paper of record, remains, along with a handful of papers and media sources around the world that continue to offer all the news that’s fit. Woe be unto us if we allow them to die or be coopted by special interests.  Remember the Tower of Babel? That is a part of the Bible we vet every day.

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