Friday, October 28, 2005


Who do you watch, if anybody, on television for the news? Do you have a favorite anchor?

I used to watch CNN Headline news every evening for about a half-hour. Their format was fast-paced, and within a 30-minute time span I could get at least a quick glance (“Headline” news, right?) of all the main events going on in the country and the world.

Then CNN changed. Now their prime time headline news features the newscasters more than the stories. Or so it seems to me.

The “personalities” who present the stories inject a lot of their own emotions or feelings into their reporting. I guess that’s nothing new, but now it seems that they compete with each other to see who can give a story more emotion.

Paula Zahn is one of the worst, with Anderson Cooper not far behind. Paula speaks loudly with body language, facial expressions, and tone. And all of those non-verbals are screaming, “ISN’T THIS HORRIBLE!?”

Occasionally, when interviewing someone, Paula will make repeated efforts to get them to tell us how awful things are. She’ll furrow her brow and ask the person, “Well, how does that make you feel?”

If the interviewee doesn’t respond with enough horror or emotion, she plunge on with, “Yes, but don’t you think that is just terrible?” Her tone tells you that she is just appalled! And you should be too!

Sometimes I’ve listened to one of her reports, and then played it back in my mind using neutral tone and an interested but otherwise blank expression. Gee, guess what? The story is just as compelling, but I don’t have that urge to cluck my tongue, shake my head, and say, “Can you imagine that?”

The newscasters' whole demeanor pushes hard on the viewer to be outraged or incredulous. To me, it’s too much. Its lack of subtlety causes it not to work for me. I don’t like to feel manipulated, and their (apparent) efforts to project their emotion into me makes me balk.

And I then find that I’m so turned off by their hyper-projected emotion, I’ve lost the thrust and real flavor of the story they’re reporting.

What to do? Watch Fox News, with its widely acknowledged spin toward the right? Watch the ABC/CNS/NBC networks, with their widely acknowledged tilt toward the left? Go burrow under a rock and ignore current events?

I find myself leaning towards getting the actual stories from either the internet sites or tomorrow’s newspaper, and just watching the TV reports for the video clips.

Anybody else have this problem, or is it just my advancing senility and resistance to change?


kenju said...

I have nearly lost all interest in TV and the news since I started blogging. I figure if there is something I need to know about, it will get to my ears or eyes somehow.

Hale McKay said...

I have to agree with you, John. Like you, i was beginning to wonder if it was just me. I find the same thing to be true with Sports Casters too! It seems to have become more about them than the news they are allegedly reporting. Viva Internet News!
...Speaking of news. From a local story which was given a "Ho-hum" mention on the area news reports, I just posted a diatribe on the story."Put This In Your PC And Smoke It!"

Christina said...

I pretty much opted for ignoring current events. If there's something I'm interested in (such as hurricane progress) I may follow it, but do not as a rule watch news evry day. Or every other day. Or very much at all really. If anything of note has occurred, everybody at work will be talking about it and I can fill in from there.

Karyn Lyndon said...

I'm kinda like Christina. Sometimes life is just a little cheerier not getting into the nitty-gritty details of stuff you can't do anything about anyway. I like to get my "headlines" from the radio and Saturday Night

BTW...FF has been posted now

Duke_of_Earle said...

WOO -- HOO!!

Freaky Friday!!

I'm on my way!


STAG said...

Michael Moore figured the real problem with the US media is that they generated a "culture of fear". The whole movie "Bowling for Columbine" is actually not about guns, but about the special interest groups and media creating fear. Your description of Paula Zahn was right on! May even prove his point! (OMG!!!)(grin!)

just a drive by blogger, enjoyed reading your stuff!)