When a child, it was our family ritual to watch the evening news together after dinner. It was the days when Walter Cronkite, Peter Jennings, Eric Sevareid, David Brinkley, and Chet Huntley reported the news keeping us abreast of national and world events. They could say more in a half hour with their concise reporting than most now can say in an hour. The report explained not just the current update, but the background information as well making the news a learning event about national and world events. Maintaining a dignified demeanor, they told us about the Cold War or the race to space along with myriad other items. Other than newspapers, it was the only resource available to hear about the events affecting the nation.
All the while in Cleveland, OH, during 1959, a new format was developing for the local news show. They termed it Eyewitness News with the reporter being the “eyewitness to occurring events and reporting them back to the anchor who would then comment on the action. This format depended on visual effects and action video per Wikipedia. This livelier format filtered to Philadelphia and then to other stations before becoming the one and only way to produce news shows.
This metamorphosed over the years to a lighter, less investigative news shows. Rather than hear an in-depth report on a forest fire, we get a one-minute (maybe) shot of the fire burning and the state it is located in as well as whether or not any homes are endangered. It takes longer to discuss the current familial situation of TomKat or Angelina and Brad which is all too often non-news according to the information given. It’s easy to see that the “news” shows are chasing after ratings and, thus, advertisers’ dollars. It’s also easy to see that this is want people want to hear about. Increasingly, we are taking a head-in-the-sand attitude about events that are more difficult to comprehend or resolve.
Today, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of resources for news, but with such proliferation it is almost impossible to determine what the truth is and where the distortions lie. Many news resources have slants or biases reflecting the views of the publisher with subtle wording to reflect their own beliefs. News is readily available, but it all seems much ado about nothing with all due apologies to Mr. Shakespeare. There is plenty of reporting but so little effort put into getting the complete so that we can all be an eyewitness to everything.