The Nature of the Network News

Very often Big Stories happen in a brief amount of time and can be summed up in relatively few words: “President Kennedy Assassinated”, “Challenger Explodes”, “World Trade Center Destroyed”. But then you still have the other 23:59:30 of broadcast time to fill up. So you have to endlessly repeat the footage of the Columbia exploding, or Wallace getting shot or whatever and pore over in achingly obsessive detail every new and grisly bit of detail about jawbones being discovered or estimate trajectories of bullets or the fine points about whether witnesses heard a “BOOOOOOM” or something more like a “KRRRRAAAAACKKKK”. The recycled non-stop chatter has to fill the air saying the same big thing over and over and then follow up it up with a lot of little ephemera that only serve to cheapen and diminish the sharp human moment we encounter in tragedy. There’s an irreducible quality of inanity to TV news that is simply the nature of a medium that is terrified of silence.

Screams of grief and profound silence are both appropriate responses to terrible pain. Play by play commentary and trivial backchat are not.

Have I mentioned that I hate TV?


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