Daily (Or When The Mood Takes Me) Gripe: Over-Reporting 

You know what the biggest problem with the 24/7 news cycle is? That it is 24/7, that’s what! 

Once upon a time – yeah, back in fairytale days – you received your news (at least on television) at 6.00pm every night, whether it was a big thing like a terrorist attack, or something as trivial as political scandals. Now, you get the headlines at 6.00, then again at 6.15, again at 6.30, again at 6.45 ad nauseam –  including “updates” that are…well…often not updates because there is nothing else to tell! Often any empathy or sympathy you have for any single situation is destroyed within hours of the event happening. 

This isn’t to say I’m downplaying situations like Charlie Hebdo, the Paris massacres, Nice, the destruction of  Christchurch by earthquake, or the tsunami that hit Japan. These are all – singularly and collectively – dreadful, hope shattering situations, and your heart goes out to those affecred by these events – until the media decide to jam it down our throats as often as possible over the next two days, anyway! Scheduled shows are canceled, news reports are extended, special coverages are organised until we – the viewers – find ourselves reaching for the remote everytime the situation is revisited…which seems to be often, with no added information! 

The terrible events in Nice is a current example of media coverage going overboard. Not only were we inundated with the news reports, and seeing the same footage again…and again…and again, we were then subjected to endless intervuews by witnesses, who all had the same story to tell, just in different words. In many instances, the interviews just became lame as the reporters tried to extract some crumb of information that hadn’t already been given.24 hours after the Nice tragedy, I turned on the morning news programs to find that Karl Stefanovic had suddenly appeared there, still trudging over what was by then old ground. He had nothing to add, no “update”, no new insights!

And it would seem there is no accountability for how the media reports, often creating an overblown sense of fear, anxiety and often placing blame on assumed presumptions. We are all looking for terrorists under the bed these days, something outside the ordinary to attach blame to. We couldn’t just have a guy with no terrorist affiliations, but with some mental problems, who was undergoing a messy divorce and had just cracked, and was taking his frustrations out on anyone within reach (which would have been the conclusion in the past), but no, these days it has to be attached to terrorism, and the media go out of their way to find the links! This isn’t helped by a terrorist organisation – Islamic State – seemingly laying claim to any unclaimed events as a way of promoting their cause, and making themselves more powerful and far-reaching than they actually are! And don’t think this isn’t the case – it is! 

The nedia have a way of creating anti-heroes, and taking simple information and creating a mythos around it, often making what isn’t scary…scary! We live in a world of catch-phrases, and despite google being just a mouse-click away, there is often little, if any, research done into words that are currently being used to instill fear into an often misinformed, and scared-of-the-unknown public. I mean, just look at the words currently being used to create a sense of fear in many peoples minds – Muslim; Islam; terrorist; halal; burqa; sharia law; extremist et al – seems to be a common thread, doesn’t there! If we are looking for contemporary scapegoats – then this seems to be where we are concentrating. You want to know something – several centuries ago, it would have been the Catholic church copping this attention as they performed the same “terrorist” attacks on anyone who didn’t think the way they thought!

As individuals who can think and reason for ourselves, we owe it to ourselves not to get caught up in this endless stream of nedia beat-ups, distortions, and laying blame as an easy way to explain what are often horrific events. Religious nuts exist – and always have! After all, what else could the Crusaders, and the Inquistion be called! People cracking up and going berserk has always happened – and always will! Let’s ask the Cathars, and the Jews, about being scapegoats for the ills of the world! The media are trying to make us scared because it gives them stories to fill their 24/7 cycle. The humdrum of everyday life isn’t enough to feed this voracious animal! 

And we keep looking in the wrong places for the people who can give us “hope” in these scary times! The Pauline Hansons and Jacqui Lambies of this world don’t have the answers – they just add coals to the fires of fear! They are, in a way, media pigs who at the best are being given attention they don’t deserve, and at their worst are misinformed, and in turn are misinforming others. I have always admired the unsubtle hypocrisy of people like Hanson, who in a single breath can be a ranting racist – while asuring everyone she us nit a racist! Nothing like a thick hide to cover your true intentions!

We owe it to ourselves to return balance to our lives. We are allowing the media to bring fear into our lives, to make us all feel that we can’t go about our everyday business without constantly looking over our shoulder, that we need to shift blame, to point fingers. 

There is, in fact, a very simple way to break the 24/7 news cycle, to return balance, common sense and fairness to our lives ; 

Change channels!

Tim Alderman (C 2016)

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