Cable TV has brought us hundreds (thousands?) of new TV channels and while some of them live up to their exciting promise (Discovery Channel, History Channel, etc.) others have still fallen somewhat short in my opinion.
One good example is the 24-hour news channels like CNN and Fox. It’s a great idea to have news available 24 hours a day — when I was growing up we had news at noon, then you had to wait until 6PM and then not again until 10PM. Each was generally 30 minutes, or at most 60 minutes, long. If you missed one of those newscasts you were in the dark until the next one. The other downside was that there was only so much they could squeeze into 30 minutes – after the crop report, the sports the weather and all the commercials you were lucky if they had time to mention how the middle-east peace process was going.
So now we have 24-Hour news channels. News available to you anytime you want it and they have plenty of time to give you a detailed examination of the stories of the day. Unfortunately they have to bow to ratings and most people don’t really want detailed examinations of the news of the day…unless that news relates to whether or not Britney is wearing underwear apparently.
Don’t get me wrong, it is great and important that now news from anywhere in the world can be communicated quickly. And now with the ubiquitous nature of the Internet and camera phones it seems like anytime a butterfly lands on a leaf everybody knows about it. I just wish that there was less fluff and more substance.
Then again, maybe the human spirit can only handle so much substance. Maybe it needs the fluff to maintain some balance and relax. Maybe we really need Paris Hilton and Kevin Federline to keep us from sinking into a massive depression. Sometimes it’s good to focus on the trivial and absurd so that we don’t have to dwell too much on the awful things that human beings sometimes do to each other.
Maybe the solution is to let CNN and MSNBC stick to the hard news and let us switch off to E! or some other ESPN when we feel like we need to take a break and watch the latest celebrity trainwreck.