What’s news on CNN?
Honestly, have you asked yourself that question lately? Feels to me like the answer is, “Next to nothing.”. I shouldn’t just pick on CNN either. For quite some time now, I’ve been noticing sensational tabloid subject lines on just about every “major” news source out there. Right this second, Britney Spears losing custody of her children is the top story on CNN.com. I recently wrote a column for a women’s business magazine in which I jokingly suggested that women may want to be vigilant about what they are viewing online at work. I suggested that they may not want to be seen in the office viewing tabloid stories or inconsequential news, as it could be bad for their reputations and make them appear to be spending their time irresponsibly. However, they may have no choice anymore considering what ends up with top billing on most mainstream news websites.
“Good Morning America”, ” Today”, and even the local morning news have all mixed cooking tips and terror reports since their beginnings. So there’s no surprise there. And it’s only recently that it’s been popular to call out the major cable networks for being slaves to advertisers, a fact known to many for years but never taught to my generation along the course of our formal educations. I’m finding myself developing a kind of ironic respect for networks such as the Entertainment channel and even celebrity mud slingers such as TMZ, at least they are up front and direct with you about just exactly what it is they’re peddling.
Then there’s the burgeoning theory that there will be some type of “YouTube” rebellion, and that we will all become our own legitimate news sources. The only hole in that otherwise plausible donut is that there is so much material to sift through. Can you really afford to spend your time browsing blogs like mine or watching teens poorly lip-synching, in order to find a genuinely good piece of news that would change your perspective, or inform you of something that you really need to know? I’ll tell you that the answer to that is definitively “no”.
Not to be too Andy Rooney, but say you do find some piece of responsible journalism out there on the internet…how do you find it trustworthy? How can you be sure that there is accuracy in reporting? Sadly, your local stations don’t often provide much respite. One example, recently an Indiana reporter (who shall remain anonymous…see, there’s the trust question again.) sensationalized a report of an accident among some young local teenagers. She stated that one teen, “left his friend for dead”, which was untrue. Had a family member of the young teen in question not caught the error and written a letter to the editor of a local paper, that teen’s reputation and mental well being could’ve been tarnished for life, due to one reporter’s false and sensational claim.
So the good news is, if we can’t entirely control the amount of sensationalism we’re getting in our news, at least we can rest assured that we can be good watchdogs and responsible citizens. The only reason I mention all of this, is because I was in an airport recently. Have you been in one in the past year or so? I was on my way home from a business trip in Atlanta, it was 5:00 a.m., and in each terminal were two televisions blaring CNN. I was forced to wait in the terminal for over an hour, listening to roughly 20 minutes of “news” on loop. That particular loop involved a constant rolling terror alert (Orange that day, if you were curious.), a recorded scream of a woman being murdered over the phone (The police couldn’t get to her on time.), and a lighter piece about helper dogs. Seriously. That was the news on the major news network.
Now, doubtless, I’ll get accused of being too liberal with this opinion of mine. To use an over-used phrase, the issue of what’s on the news has recently been a “hot button” issue between liberals and conservatives. Of which, I fancy myself on neither the right nor the left. So instead of seeing news stories about there being too much sensationalism on the news, we get news stories about how Republicans and Democrats are arguing over how different networks cover their sensationalism.
It all sounds and feels very pessimistic. That’s not exactly the point of what I’m saying. What I’m trying to get at, is that with the current state of journalism today, a more accurate motto for you might just be “Buyer Beware”.
What’s news on CNN?