Thinking Out Loud

Switching the channel...

On turning the "news" off.

Once I was like a newshound hot on the blood trail of every economic, political, entertainment and social news that I could sniff out. After the events of 9-11-01 I backed off watching TV pretty much completely but still followed news on the internet and by reading. At one time the news was also a common source of conversation in work break rooms, waiting rooms and other public gathering places. As we became homogenized by becoming educated, mainly in the workplace, about what was acceptable to say and not to say in case we should offend someone, public discussion became bland. It was too difficult to deal with the niceties of political correctness we were trained to submit to in order to avoid confrontation, especially at work where there were consequences. News was a minefield for making an error in this new environment and by the nineties most people limited public conversation to the superficial.

Although I still followed news, it was only discussed among trusted people. I started recognizing that not only following news was exhausting, it had become an addiction to always being current. In 2007 when the economic crisis broke out, I decided to see if I could uncover the source of lack of veracity of news media that we absorb in the United States. My suspicion for the previous 15 years was that it was a product, prepared and sold in the mold of the MBA Marketing mindset that permeated our consumer economy was confirmed. It seemed obvious, due to the advent of cable television becoming widespread in urban markets, with multiple channels and cable news. Call me naive for not recognizing this earlier but actually I wasn't that simple-minded, my assumption was that it was marketed to us (Y2K was a perfect example) but there was a kernel of truth in much of it we could discern for ourselves.

The beauty of the internet is that much of the real truth can be ferreted out and the beast of it is that it's not that easy. There are as many charlatans proclaiming all kinds of junk economics, science, political analysis as there always has been in the world. It's just more available. On the other hand there is much truth and factual information to make lie of what is sold in newspapers, television and old mainstream media but it requires a lot of discernment and time to discover it. My conclusion is there is collusion between the power players in traditional mainstream media, government and the financial world. This is a revelation that I recognize is no surprise to any thinking person. It was once easier to distinguish the "MSM" since it was primarily in newsprint and on radio and television but now it has also crossed over and permeates the internet also. The real question is how does the average person stay abreast of current news without having to filter out so much?

Early in 2009 I had enough of following current events and backed off considerably. I still waffle between willful ignorance, a preference a lot of the population seems to opt for, or keeping one eye open for headlines. Realistically I can't turn it all off, primarily because of the intellects I'm around most of the time. It's difficult to not be engaged by intelligent people who have something realistic to say about factual events occurring. Especially since it's a much better kernel truth than what the media would have us believe.

My conclusion is that if I pay close attention to the so-called news media, in all the forms it takes shape, it frustrates me for no useful purpose. It's full of contradictory information about the state of our world, country, economy, politics and social attitudes. My determination is the actuality of where we are as a country fundamentally is we're in a period of change, with severe underlying economic problems being propped up, there is little I can do about it and paying any attention to what the media says is vexing. My answer is to be aware we are in for stormy weather, many people and institutions are unprepared for it and that I cannot afford to let it affect my day to day life.

I base this on one piece of logic. I've weathered enough international, national, local and personal storms and in hindsight, my positive thinking and attitude have in the long term kept me safe and sound through them all.


  1. I have no idea how to tackle all the things this post brings to mind but I will say that I know you are exactly right, that mainstream media news is nothing but a carefully crafted product providing more disinformation than truth.

    I have been thinking a lot lately about the local news broadcasts around here (and probably there in AZ and everywhere else). You see interchangable anchors telling of their top story, then going to another interchangable reporter who is always either in the newsroom working on the story (what does that even mean?) or outside on the scene. If it is sunny, the reporter will inevitably be facing into it. I assume they equate squinting with work.

    Eventually comes the weather..."the RISK of showers" says all I need to say about that.

    Then sports...and if it's possible to make you wait through a 4-minute "feature" on Ecuador's World Cup soccer chances before giving you this afternoon's Dodgers-Mets score, they will surely do so.

    Then some car ads, and back for one of two things: either a "bright spot" on someone who has "given" of him or herself, um, unselfishly, to "the community"...or what I call the Funny Close, where video is shown of a group of people who just knitted the biggest sweater vest in the world or something equally important. That one always leads to a final drawback from the "News Desk" of the anchor, weather person, and sports person bantering about the aforementioned sweater vest. "We'll need that vest here tomorrow, Bob; high of 44 degrees." And then it...well I can't say it mercifully ends because then the national news comes on, but at least the local crap is over.

    You're right, JR. It's a product. I think it serves two purposes; it lulls the already lulled deeper into lulldom, and it stresses out the thinking people among us. It's 99 percent garbage and I avoid it as best I can.

    The saving grace is this: once in a great while they screw up and hire a real reporter, who will dig for news and stories and try to find the truth about what's going on. They usually disappear from the airwaves pretty quickly, but I like to see them while they last. It gives me hope that people are still trying to tell what's happening.

    I guess I agree totally with you about the news, but also hope I stumble upon as many real news people as I can. They should gather forces and start a blog or online paper, either local or national. I tell you, I would read it every day. All they'd have to earn is my trust, and honest work does that.

    This answered almost none of your post, sir, but it's about all I can handle tonight. Thanks for saying what you have, and for making me think. 99% of reporters and news outlets should do so much.

  2. Most of the real reporters here end up working for the one remaining newspaper and it's specific to government and politics, the Arizona Capitol Times, which is fee-based online but worth it.

    I really like the way you refer to the "interchangeable" anchors and reporters. When I was on the road a lot, you couldn't really tell the difference between cities by the local newcasts. They must churn them out in molds.