Tuesday, January 11, 2011

On Weather and the 24 Hour News Cycle

Today is the day that the weathermen predicted we would have 6 inches of snow in downtown Portland. Snow in downtown Portland means even more snow in the hills, where I live. I was excited about the snow because a) it's pretty, b) it's fun for the kids to play in and c) we haven't had a snow day this winter yet.

As we got near and nearer to today, the big day, the forecast got more and more conservative until this morning when all offers for snow were rescinded. Instead, we will have rain. And it might freeze, but probably not.

Well, thanks a lot.

This makes me feel like I am wasting my time watching the weather reports. Although I usually watch while I'm making dinner, so it's not a total waste of time. Dinner does get made and the family has been pretty supportive of my feeding them. But seriously, what's the point. I'd do better to just see what the weather is like when it's happening. You know--open the door and stick my head out. Or look out the window and see if things are wet, dry, or windy.

This thought led me to consider the 24 hour news cycle and the recent shooting of US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. The tragedy in Arizona set off an unfortunate run of news stories blaming toxic political rhetoric as the cause of the shooter's violent outburst. As in, if the politicians could just talk nicely to each other, then maybe there wouldn't be crazy people.

While it would be nice if everyone could talk nicely, the logic is flawed. But are the news people to blame for pushing this story? The news is on TV 24 hours a day. They have to come up with something to say. Even if that something is the rantings of people in shock. Or people who haven't had time to learn all the details. The information we get is opinions rather than facts. We hear comments based on fear and anger, not rational thinking.

That's not news.

The 24 hour news cycle does plenty to stir everyone up. It creates division. It promotes conflict. It shines a light on the faults of our public servants and makes us forget their humanity. It makes us feel the need to take sides instead of stand united.

So, boo to the news. You don't offer me useful information and might possibly be a catalyst for crazy people.

And boo to the weather reports. I want snow!

But I'll still watch you tonight while I'm making dinner.

1 comment:

Emily Laing said...

I try to stick to NPR and never believe anything I read until 3 or 4 sources can verify it...