Information or News?
With the advent of cable news and twenty-four hour broadcasts by the major network broadcasters, the public has become inundated with opinions and facts to the point that it is drowning in frustration and misinformation. When an event of note takes place the people are force fed the details to the point that one wants to pull their hair out. The press, which I believe is destroying this country, will delve into every facet of the event over and over. They think that they are morally obligated to let everyone know each and every little detail of anything that comes across their desk. Even things that touch national security are blabbed all over the airwaves for our enemies to see. How stupid is it to tell one's enemies what the game plan is? But our news outlets see nothing wrong with making sure that they have filled their precious obligation to spill the beans on things which ought to be kept quiet for national security. After all, they have to fill twenty-four hours of broadcasting with something so everything is on the table. Foolish! But, our enemies love it!
There is simply not enough happening to feed the appetites of all the news organizations who ceaselessly struggle to be the first to pass some tidbit of information along to the public which is already gagging on the whole thing. It's like having a huge gob of bubblegum hung in the back of one's mouth and they can't get it to go up or down. So, there you are....gagging on information which does not rise to the level of news.
Somehow the public has been convinced that information and news are the same thing. They are not. News is vital information which affects one's life in some way whether it be only slightly or more profoundly. When something happens a thousand miles away it is information unless it deals with something concerning you personally. Some tragedy on an unknown highway in a distant state is information to you yet you are fed the intimate details of the event and it is brought right into your living room over and over again with every news cycle. And, it is in full color with human suffering and tragedy becoming a part of your life when it does not involve you in any way. It is tragic information, not news to you. News has to do with you personally. It has to do with things that affect you such as your national security; the state of your country; some rampaging disease which is coming your way; a terrible storm which might affect your family or business; an aggressive country which might set off a world war and attack an ally of our nation; a sudden crash of the stock market which will affect your investments in a negative way; the actions of congress which will affect you and many other such things. The World Trade Center was news. Every facet of every suffering person and each sad story of who was trapped in whatever stairwell is tragic information; not news to you. After a while, people get overloaded. They live with raw nerves and a foreboding outlook. No wonder the sale of nerve pills is at an all-time high.
Broadcasters such as Bill O'Reilly, Shawn Hannity, Megan Kelly and others on Fox News are a good example of people who are selling information as news. Most of what they say is nothing more than their opinions or the opinions of those writing the basic scrip of a show. Bill O'Reilly is a prime example. He makes millions a year expressing his opinion. Now, he says he is "fair and balanced" but if one is asked a question they are not four words into their answer before O'Reilly is interrupting them and basically telling them what their answer should be. One can hardly express themselves as they try to talk over O'Reilly who is guiding the conversation through his objections and difference of opinion. If one is going to ask another person a question then they should be able to give a cogent answer without being rudely interrupted several times during that segment. Hannity is just as bad as is Megan Kelly and others. I mention those because I have long given up on the major outlets such as NBC, CBS and ABC and watch Fox News primarily. I have long grown weary of my intelligence being insulted by people who think I am dumb enough to swallow their manipulative "news" stories. And, even if the broadcaster is giving some actual news, it quickly degenerates into the giving of an opinion. I'm not interested in their opinions. Give me the news; something that has a direct influence on me, my family and my country.
One major problem that we have today is that there is too much talking. Everyone is talking, talking, talking. Too much is said that is wrong and opinions and information begin to take on the gravitas of actual news. If something is said on television or printed in a paper, or put on Twitter or Facebook people have been programmed to classify it as fact and therefore news. A good example of what I am talking about is found in the "news" that a large chunk of space rock the size of a football stadium is going to "skim by earth" at a distance of several hundred thousand miles or maybe by as much as five million miles or some such figure. That is information. It is not news. It does not affect us but it is passed off as some important breaking news story. No, it is information which only adds to the misery of some who worry about such things. Now, if something caused it to change course and head right for the earth, then it becomes news. It affects all of us at that point. Tell me about it then if you are going to call it news. The reason that the outlets deal in so much "information" as opposed to "news" is that there just isn't THAT much news. The real news can be covered in only a few minutes so they are stuck with about twenty-three hours to fill with something. Therefore, we have a glut of information that is passed off as news and we have been programmed to accept it as such. Over and over; over and over, each reporter tells us the same thing until we are ready scream. Get up off the couch! Don't let them do it to you! Learn what is news and what isn't. Focus on the news and jettison the opinion and information that has been re-tooled as news.
Just watch some of the news outlets and truly analyze the huge amount of information you are fed. Ask yourself, "Now how does that affect me other than making me aware of something of which I can do nothing." Suddenly you will realize that you are spending a lot of time absorbing information that means absolutely nothing to you but it robs you of valuable time which is a limited resource. Additionally, one gets weary of hearing about the absolute inane and convoluted way people think and live. The buffoonery of our federal government and the way most people in Washington think leaves one irritated and frustrated. Nerves stay on end. Doctors make a lot of money. Drug companies get rich selling pills to make people forget the intense irritation and depression all of this brings on. Remember: information is not news. Decide what is news and focus on that.
Something else that people should think about is that people like O'Reilly and Hannity make millions each year and their ratings are huge. How do they continue to survive in a rapidly changing environment such as broadcasting? Let me suggest to you that they know that they can continue to make such money if they keep their ratings up. And, they have learned that people gravitate to the negative. They like to hear about things which are a problem. These and other broadcasters know that people will continue to listen to bad or threatening information or "news." They make their money by keeping people frustrated and irritated. If they suddenly shifted to things which are positive and uplifting, they would lose their audience. Their approach of force feeding negative information to the public is energized by the understanding of human nature which automatically gravitates toward and feeds on the negative. And, they know that the public will quickly translate "information" into "news" because they heard it on television or some other accepted medium. About two years ago I decided that I wasn't going to let such newscasters use me by making me miserable so I would continue to listen so that they could make millions off keeping people miserable and frustrated. So, I turned them off. And, it is amazing but I am still informed! I haven't missed anything that I know of. My wife and I are also less irritated and frustrated. It has made a difference in our outlook on life. We are less tense and more at peace while, as the same time, we have missed nothing. The difference is that we are controlling the environment and we are not letting others decide how happy or irritated we are. So, Mr. O'Reilly or Mr. Hannity or Ms Van Susteren you will have to make your money off someone else, not me.
It amazes me that what people read on Twitter suddenly becomes "fact" that affects them. This is ludicrous. It makes no sense. I don't "tweet" because I am not a "twit" which is what many people reveal themselves to be. Recently I made the comment to my wife that Twitter and Facebook have created a nation of narcissists who think that everyone is sitting around wondering what they are doing that day or at that moment. They think everyone is as interested in them as they are and they can't understand why everyone wouldn't love them as much as they do. So, they take a picture of the food they are eating and tweet it to all those on their Twitter account as if those people were wondering what that person was having for lunch. That is an example of a narcissist who focuses on themselves and thinks everyone else is as well.
Take the current political situation in America. The addition of all the social media outlets has done nothing but complicate the whole process. Everyone has an opinion, informed or not, and now even the most uninformed or radical people have the ability to interject their opinions into the atmosphere by the pervasive social media outlets. All of this is "information"; not news. But just let someone say something wild and crazy on Twitter and see how many pick it up and push it around. It gets bigger and bigger and more misinformed as it grows. But, to those who read it on Twitter is suddenly becomes fact that somehow affects them and therefore "news" to them. There is simply too much talking and too much gossip. But, I'm afraid it is out of control. The genie is out of the bottle and will never go back in because of the narcissistic generation in control which thinks that because they now have an outlet for their opinions, that they absolutely must speak up. Besides, everyone is sitting around with bated breath just wondering what this little narcissist is thinking.
So, I think it would be prudent for people to learn to re-program themselves to be able to discern the difference between "information" and "news." It will be greatly beneficial to do so. And the world will be a much nicer place in which to live.
William F. Harrell