I turn on the news with total trepidation, and more often lately, dread. Typically the first five stories are about death, political unrest, the failing US economy, or terrorism. I seriously don’t know why I bother, yet I am literally aware of the latest breaking news throughout the day. We no longer get our news only at 5:00 or 6:00. We see it on TV throughout the day, hear it in our cars, and browse for it on our computers at will 24/7.
Unfortunately, mainstream news is morphing into tabloid sensationalism. Breaking News – Lindsey Lohan is heading back to jail. Really?!? Taylor Armstrong’s husband commits suicide. Taylor who? Why does the news media think, no, insist we care? Are hard news issues so depressing that we’re offered News Light as a friendly diversion or is good news simply not exciting enough? Not to give the impression that I am totally down on what’s considered news, I have been riveted with the Conrad Murray/Michael Jackson trial, much as I was with the Casey Anthony and OJ Simpson trials. Allowing cameras in the courtroom incurs a level voyeurism that incites (and seduces) the public to form opinions, sometimes erroneous opinions; however; it doesn’t stop here. There’s the recap programs. Specifically, Headline News (HLN/Charter Channel 49) with Nancy Grace, Jane Velez-Mitchell, and Dr. Drew asking a variety of talking-head experts who discuss and disseminate the day’s testimony, which further frustrates armchair jurors like myself. The defense in the Michael Jackson trial will be resting soon, deliberations will begin, but as we’ve learned from the Anthony and Simpson cases, nothing is a slam-dunk.
Several years ago I made a concerted effort to avoid watching late night news based on the premise that I did not want to go to bed with sad thoughts and images freshly implanted in my brain. Instead I’d watch reruns of Friends, Seinfeld, Sex and the City, or The Daily Show. At least I’d be laughing myself to sleep. This experiment lasted a month. I needed a reality fix – good, bad or otherwise. I guess I’m just a glutton for punishment.
On the bright side, the best news I’ve heard in years is a clinical study that confirms dark chocolate is healthy to eat every day. EVERY DAY! That’s the kind of news we can all agree is a relevant breakthrough in medical science. I’ll continue to monitor the news because one day the stock market will turn around, our troops will come home, Republicans will pick a candidate, and dammit, I want to be the first to know.