No News, Part 2

I was watching the Colombian news this morning and it struck me – our news really isn’t as relevant to us as Caracol is to its people. In addition to the sports, weather, and major news stories for the world and the country, they always impart some sort of cultural or societal information and go to the various regions of the country to get their take on whatever the subject happens to be. From watching the Colombian news for a few weeks I can learn about how to eat right, cultural food traditions from all over the country, what various regions feel their contribution to Colombian culture is, how language and dialect varies throughout the country, favorite vacation spots and how (and why) the preference for beach, mountain, or jungle resorts changes depending on their state of origin, and many other things (including history, science, technology, etc…).

In a country of 30 million people with a struggling economy that has been mired in civil war for over 50 years, journalists can bang out a spectacular 60 minute news program (with commercials) filled with relevant news from the country, the region, and the world, and report what’s significant, regardless of where it’s happening. In contrast, in a country of 300,000 million people with one of the strongest economies in the world, the news from America will be 30 minutes long, have possibly one ACTUAL story that MUST be relevant to Americans, will contain NO cultural or societal analysis, and will avoid (all all costs) any REAL questioning of the government or its politicians.

And CNN.com’s new format has made this information MUCH more difficult to find:
3,576 US Soldiers killed in Iraq
26,350 US Soldiers wounded in Iraq


7 Responses to “No News, Part 2”

  1. 1 daveawayfromhome
    June 30, 2007 at 10:10 pm

    I’d say the reasons you listed for why America should have a great news system are precisely the reasons we do not: too comfortable, too soft, too sure that we know all, see all, and have done all.

  2. 2 United We Lay
    July 1, 2007 at 2:59 am

    But we haven’t seen it all and done it all, and it’s up to our news system to remind us of that as often as possible.

  3. 3 United We Lay
    July 1, 2007 at 1:57 pm

    Colombia the country is spelled with an ‘O’.

    I have to read that book.

  4. 4 Cranky Yankee
    July 1, 2007 at 8:36 pm

    The book, which a commenter mentioned in a previous thread, Culture of Fear by Barry Glassner discusses this in some length.

    In Colombia, mired in civil war and violence, the people have something real to fear. Fear is not foreign to them and in fact much of the population lives in it. They do not want to turn to it for entertainment and it will not sell. So what you see in the news is something healthy in response to the condition. It is not attempting to evoke a response or manipulate the condition. Well, maybe it is, but it does seem like it would be in a positive way.

    In America the vast majority of the people have nothing to fear. We live in a very safe place. Fear, at Maslow’s lower levels, is foreign to most of us. It is unknown to many. It is an emotion we collectively use as a perverted form of entertainment. Like the proverbial car crash, “we can’t look away.” So the media, primarily TV, has used this as a way to get us to watch and as a result to sell us things.

    Marketing fear. They create boogiemen from anecdotal situations that the vast majority of Americans never have a need to fear, gangstas, terrorists, home invaders, immigrant lepers, child molesters, escaped prisoners, poisons under your sink, etc. More on action news at five.

    These boogiemen keep us coming back to the scene of the car crash because we can’t look away. The mangled body is strangely stimulating from under the protective sheet that keeps you from seeing it up close. Trust me, if you see it up close you will never look again. Colombia has seen it up close. America has not.

  5. 5 Cranky Yankee
    July 1, 2007 at 8:37 pm

    Is that better?

  6. 6 United We Lay
    July 3, 2007 at 12:36 am

    Yes, and I hope you didn’t takethat correction as an insult. My husband’s from Colombia and it drives him crazy when people spell it incorrectly. We’ve seen it (ad corrected it) in museums, on websites, etc…

    We are far too comfortable. I think things are beginning to change in small ways. the people of Philadelphia are sarting to get angry at the bad schools and the high murder rate. More people need to be angry. For some reason rising gas prices just aren’t doing it.

  7. 7 The Zombieslayer
    July 4, 2007 at 5:02 pm

    I actually was a journalism major for one semester. It would piss you off, big time.

    You know what they taught us? To write for the Lowest Common Denominator. And you wonder why Americans are getting dumbed down.

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I am not perfect. I do my best to practice what I preach, but I am human. My mantra is, "DO NO HARM". I may not always succeed, but I will always try. My goal is to be a better person today than I was yesterday.

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