I don’t watch the news on television. If I do, I watch the World news on the International station (SBS). I find commercial stations hype up the news. Often I am astounded by what they consider to be important enough to be the lead story. This week one station led with an ‘exclusive’ about one of their celebrities facing a battle with cancer. I realise that this is probably huge news in this mans life, but compared with the political situation in Pakistan or somewhere else, I am not really concerned. Please don’t misunderstand me, I appreciate what it takes to battle through cancer (recently seen it with a few close to me) but I don’t need to know how some ex-footballer who is a sexist bastard is dealing with it. In my opinion he doesn’t respect other people so I have NO respect for him. (The only positive that I can see is if it raises the status of prostate cancer and getting checks.)
The next day one of the local papers led with the same article. As the paper is a tabloid, the photo and headline covered the whole of the front page. The other major newspaper (a broadsheet) had a story about corruption as its lead that only covered the top half of the front page.
I don’t actually read the newspaper either. I flick the pages each day, check out the headlines and look at the pictures. Sometimes the wording of a headline or the link made to a photo astounds me. It is not until I get to the entertainment section (predominantly reviews) that I slow down the flicking and start reading. I can’t be bothered with the ‘news’ about celebrities, as I don’t really see them as celebrities. (That’s a whole other story about the rise of celebrity status when people should just be recognised as being good at their job – acting, sport, music etc – not how they live their life!)
It astounds me when people decide to read the paper from the back. What is the fascination with sport? People are good at running or throwing or something quite physical, and suddenly they have developed a God-like status. (Again think of the rise of celebrity status. We look at how they have lived their lives and if they make a mistake we tear them apart. Often these ‘celebrities’ start their lives in the spotlight at the age of 16 or so. I don’t know many 16 year olds who don’t make mistakes. I teach them. They’re not heroes, they’re just kids who happen to be good at something and suddenly they are expected to lead the way. They struggle with doing what they can and we (as a society) want so much more from them. How unfair is that?)
To avoid all these confusing issues of false stardom and the like, I listen to the radio for my news. Not commercial radio – that’s where you get opinion, which can be good for a laugh. I listen to the national broadcaster each morning. There are no commercials, lots of in-depth questions and the occasional laugh. By the time I get to work in the morning, I know all the news I need to.
I also love commercial free radio for music. I love the public broadcasters (PBS and RRR) as they play music I might never have heard before and probably wont ever again. They also talk through issues that might not be discussed elsewhere. Today, being Sunday, I will sit and listen to RRR where I will hear ‘Radio Marinara’ – a show dedicated to the world of the sea including rivers and coasts then a show dedicated to medicine and research. After that I will flick to PBS and listen to very early Blues and roots, ska, rockabilly and anything that has become popular over the last 50 years.
I think my life is fairly balanced. I know what is current news wise and I also know what is current in the popular culture, but I love the fact that I am actively avoiding paid and unpaid advertising. As I discovered at dinner last night, I am part of a minority but I love being there. It is great to know that I don’t have to believe all that is presented to me, be willing to question, and to look for alternatives.