Monday, August 8, 2011

Hell or the CNN Effect?

Is anyone else who views this blog post almost afraid to turn on the news or read a newspaper these days?

This morning, the top news stories on ABC were: The S&P downgrade of U.S. debt, the death of the Navy Seals in Afghanistan, and the Warren Jeffs trial in Texas.

 Good lord, those three stories right there are enough to make one reach for the bottle of anti-depressants. Factor in the riots in London over that police shooting, the spate of local robberies and shootings and I’m pretty well in the dumps before ten in the morning.

 Some with a more religious bend are prophesizing that the end of times are coming. I’m not a scholar of religion and ill equipped to wage any sort of a theological debate with anyone, but are we witnessing the Biblical End of Days or are we just feeling the consequences of having a 24 Hour news cycle?

The advantage of having the 24 Hour news cycle is that one can know exactly what is going on at any exact moment in time.

The disadvantage? One can know exactly what is going on at any exact moment in time, creating a heavy information culture while serving up steady doses of depression on the half-hour. Every bit of bad news gets magnified ten thousand times through repeated airings and analysis, meaning that it has a place within the human consciousness whether we want it or not.

 Things are clearly bad throughout the world right now, but I wonder if the news media isn’t magnifying this into greatest all time crisis proportions.

We really don’t have a parallel here, as the Great Depression/Dust Bowl and World War II generation was largely experienced through the radio. The turbulent sixties brought about a new role for the media embodied by Cronkite reporting from Vietnam, the riots at the 1968 Democratic Convention, and the assassinations of President Kennedy and his brother Bobby perhaps served as a model of what was to come.

 There’s no way to know how any of these decades or events would have been changed or altered had the news media been more active in those days.

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