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OK, next story please

October 21, 2009 - Art Smith

The ease of spreading information across town and around the world has obviously gotten easier in the last few decades.

I for one find the idea of a 24-hour news cycle exciting. Increasingly, we turn to the web or cable news for the quick hit of what is going on at the moment, getting the details later from the newspaper or perhaps another, less in-depth, media.

Cable news pioneered the idea of the 24 news cycle in the 1980s when the Cable News Network launched.

Cable news has gotten very good at covering the big story of the day while it is going on. We expect them to be covering the big story when we turn to their station, in order to not disappoint the viewer they will cover the same story for hours on end, regardless if there is anything to report, or if they actually know what they are covering to be true or not.

They frequently get burned doing this. A few weeks ago they reported attacks in Washington D.C. that were in fact just a drill.

Last week the story of the moment was the case of balloon boy Falcon Heene. The images of the disk shaped craft drifting over the western United States made dramatic footage. The father Richard Heene “thought” his son was in the balloon.

For two hours Americans watch and hoped for the best. It is now believed that the father watched and hoped for his own reality show.

Everyone involved jumped to conclusions without any facts. Did anyone bother to ask if a craft that small could even get off the ground with a six year-old on board?

With the craft safely back on the ground, the non-stop story has now turned to the father, who was seeking publicity, and unfortunately, is now getting it.

As a country we are still fighting two wars, trying to rebuild the economy after the worst recession in decades and trying to figure out a way that people can go to the doctor when they are sick, all apparently not as important as a boy who was not in a balloon. My daughters were not in the balloon either; lets do a story on them.

I mainly stay away from cable news, even though I am a certifiable news junkie, I can’t stand all the yelling and I really don’t care about distant dysfunctional families. Not ones named Jackson, not ones with eight kids, not even ones that name their kids after birds and build flying saucers in their back yards. I saw a tape yesterday of Jon Gosselin commenting on the balloon boy story — will it never end?

It will end when the next “big” story comes along and the satellite trucks and talking heads move on to the next “must see” idiot’s front yard.


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