What is News?

Tonight at the gym, I put on my headphones and listened to a mix I had made. I couldn’t help but look at the closed captioning on a couple of the screens. Time for the news. I got sucked into reading a few stories, but then I decided it was better to stare at the equipment in front of me instead of the gloop that was being discussed.

I do not say ‘gloop’ out of disrespect to anyone’s trauma’s that are being discussed. However, news tends to be only trauma – who killed whom, what the terrorists are doing, and what the weather is going to be. The news stations rely heavily on traumatic events to fill their news hour programming.

But does it have to be this way? I wonder what good it does us to find out that another murder-suicide was committed. Surely, the families must be notified. It might be a good way to get the word out about funerals, I guess. But, for the rest of us who do not know these people, I wonder why we need to know at all.

Does knowing who killed whom in a murder-suicide serve as an appropriate news story? I’m not sure. As I said, beyond the logistics of notifying the family and maybe getting word out, I feel that the rest of us really do not need to know this happened. I almost feel like it’s none of our business to know.

We can’t do anything about these tragedies except to tut-tut from afar and then continue to feel both insulated from the problems and at risk for them. I’m not sure how a news story can make someone feel both vulnerable and protected at the same time, but I often find myself having these feelings.

Maybe it would be worthwhile to have a summary story of different kinds, as long as they were also accompanied by information that told the rest of us things like the warning signs to look for, how we can help ourselves and our friends, and other valuable resources. News stations could use the news in order to educate, assist, and inform.

In this way, we could get our news along with information on how we can take action. I think that would go a long way towards making viewers feel like the news they were being fed were part of a balanced news diet, instead of the negative, unhealthy portions we keep being served and eating.

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