Sunday, March 16, 2008

news and weather

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.


Vanessa said...

I hate the local news too. They always manage to get the person who makes for the best ratings ie, the town idiot, to stand up there and say something so earth shattering as "I justa sawed it a commin' and so I said I gotsta run, and I runned as hard as I wanted." In response to a tornado.

Do they have NPR (national public radio) there? I mostly listen to that for my news.

Riayn said...

A kindred spirit! I hate commercial news. Channel 10 is the worse, it isn't news it is an infotainment segment.
I must admit I am an ABC girl. Watch ABC news and listen to ABC local radio. I love my ABC. I am also addicted to reading the Sydney Morning Herald, but I have noticed it has gotten more tabloid-y in recent years. However, it is nowhere near as bad as

cramerj said...

A lot of people can barely read. attention spans are getting shorter. And family interests don't exist any more.
The celebrities live their lives for us.
And the papers go where the advertising revenue is.
But is it not nice to know we are smarter and more sophisticated than the rest!

Frogdancer said...

Seems like you go to a lot of effort to avoid a few ads. I'm amazed you have the energy to teach by the time you get to work....

widget said...

Frogdancer - that is the amazing thing about me - I am super woman! I will do anything to avoid a 'few' ads! Leap tall buildings ina single bound, then go off an teach......
Vanessa - no NPR - but we have ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).
Riayn - I can't read news on the computer. I run away from it!

Douglas W said...

I'm pleased to see there are a few people out there who are not sucked in by the popular culture (misnomer) of the commercial stations and their obscene emphasis upon gossip - or, as you say, the fact that one of their uneducated, unfunny, unintelligent heroes has gone to have a colonoscopy and sold the exclusive rights to film it to 60 Minutes. As for the commercials - well - I used to watch only ABC and SBS - and now it's down to the ABC because of the commercials on SBS and the dumbing down of their programs to attract a popular audience....

Sorry, you got me hoing there.