Not necessarily the news
The other day, without knowing I was going to do so, I yelled at the TV screen.
This is a family ailment. My father has been yelling at the TV as long as I can remember.
The wife, kids and I were in the process of getting ready for our day and the morning "news" shows were on.
I don't know if I am crazy or just stubborn in this ritual of turning on the Today Show and the CBS morning show each day, hoping to find out what is happening in the world as I eat my breakfast. It has been years since these programs fulfilled my desires in this regard. I have to frequently mute it or change the station to avoid hearing a concert from a new singer or to keep my kids from hearing an inappropriate topic discussed at length.
So anyway, on this particular morning, Al Roker, who has apparently become something more than a weather person, was narrating a video of a large box truck rolling slowly backwards down a street.
There are about 5 people at the table with Al, and they are yucking it up about this video, which was probably shot on a camera phone. The poor driver is chasing the truck as it rolls into a yard. Then someone says, "No one was hurt and there was no major damage."
"So why is it national news?!" my voice suddenly thundered, startling everyone in the house.
I don't know what came over me. I was just thinking that a minor mishap in which no one is seriously injured and nothing is damaged should not receive more airtime than a war or whatever real news was happening that morning, real news this show is determined to keep me from hearing about.
There's a forgetfulness to my reaction because everyone in this business is involved in infotainment now. We all use social media and all that nonsense now.
But it's jarring on regular TV news stations and shows because broadcasts used to be different when I was growing up, and they were better still before my time.
Can you imagine Edward R. Murrow or Walter Cronkite reporting on major events today?
"Murrow: This is Trafalgar Square. The noise you hear at the moment is the sound of the air raid sirens. ...A searchlight just burst into action off in the distance, one single beam sweeping the sky above me now. People walking along quite quietly. We're just at the entrance of an air raid shelter here..."
"Let's go to our Twitter feed, shall we? ApplePie42 tweets, 'I'd rather push a B-17 than fly a Messerschmitt.' Thank you ApplePie42."
Or can you imagine Walter Cronkite saying, "Neil Armstrong, 38-year-old American, standing on the surface of the moon. Now, we turn to a YouTube video of a cute kitten chasing a laser. Yes, very adorable."
It sounds ridiculous, and yet that's what's happening on our TV news these days.
I'm all for fun news as long as it is clearly put where it belongs: opinion on the opinion page; entertainment set apart from the hard news and labeled appropriately. I also don't mind as long as the fun doesn't push important news aside.
The following morning, there I was again and it was a new video, this one of a grandmother riding a roller coaster for the first time. I would be lying if I said it didn't make me smile. But I'd be lying if I called it news.